For one of Wednesday’s two final games prior to the All-Star break, we get an Eastern Conference tilt between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes.
Carolina looks to extend its six-game win streak while Buffalo searches for redemption after Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Will the Hurricanes take care of business as short road favorites, or can the Sabres enter the break on a high note? Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Hurricanes vs Sabres below.
Hurricanes vs Sabres best odds
Hurricanes vs Sabres picks and predictions
The Carolina Hurricanes continue to dominate the league, winning six straight games and eight of their last nine. This trend will likely continue with goaltender Antti Raanta slated to take the crease for the Canes tonight.
Entering this matchup in tremendous form, Raanta is 5-0-1 with a .925 save percentage (SV%) and 1.71 goals against average (GAA) over his last six starts. It helps his cause that Carolina boasts the most efficient blue line in the league in front of Raanta.
At 5-on-5, the Canes rank first in the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60). Meanwhile, Carolina is due for massive positive regression offensively as, at 5-on-5, it ranks 12th in the league in goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60) but second in xGF/60.
On the other hand, the Buffalo Sabres is due for regression offensively as, at 5-on-5, they rank fourth in the league in GF/60 but 13th in xGF/60. If the Sabres’ offense slows down, this defensively-weak team is in trouble.
This season, Buffalo ranks just 23rd in the league in xGA/60. To make matters worse for the Sabres, they could be without both their most important offensive player and second-best defensive player in this contest.
Star forward Tage Thompson is listed as questionable for this game with an upper-body injury. Since he practiced on Tuesday, I believe it's more likely that he will play than not, although there is a decent chance Buffalo decides to just rest him on the final day before break.
The same rings true for defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who is questionable with a lower-body injury. He practiced, so I'd expect him to play, but would also not be surprised if he rests with the break looming.
Either way, Carolina is the team to back in this contest. They are in better form, and boast a more efficient offense and defense while the goaltending matchup is likely a wash.
My best bet: Hurricanes moneyline (-145 at DraftKings)
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Hurricanes vs Sabres moneyline analysis
The goaltending situation is likely a wash as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is projected to start between the pipes for Buffalo. Both of their surface-level stats and underlying metrics are relatively similar, and both netminders look impressive when watching them work.
Through 20 starts this season, Luukkonen is 13-5-2 with a .900 SV% and 3.26 GAA. If it was just a goaltending matchup, I would certainly lean toward the Sabres at plus money.
However, this sport is obviously much, much more than just goaltending. The juice is worth the squeeze with the Canes considering that goaltending is relatively even while they are more efficient everywhere else on the ice.
Hurricanes vs Sabres Over/Under analysis
I would lean towards the Under in this contest because of the goaltenders and Carolina’s elite blue line. However, there are too many other causes for concern.
First of all, the Canes are due for positive regression offensively. On the flip side, Buffalo’s offense is due for regression.
At the same time, the Sabres’ blue line is inefficient at 5-on-5, which could cause problems against a Carolina team that is likely going to have a much better second half of the season offensively.
Hurricanes vs Sabres betting trend to know
The Hurricanes have won six straight games. Find more NHL betting trends for Hurricanes vs Sabres.
Hurricanes vs Sabres game info
|Location:||KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY|
|Date:||Wednesday, February 1, 2023|
|Puck drop:||7:00 p.m. ET|