In the first game of TNT’s weekly Wednesday night double-header, there is an Eastern Conference tilt between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres.
This game features two teams that love to play fast and are better offensively than they are defensively, which means a fun affair should be in store.
More specifically, the stars are aligning for Buffalo and its red-hot offense. Keep reading our NHL picks and predictions below to find out where the best betting value lies.
Sabres vs Blue Jackets best odds
Sabres vs Blue Jackets picks and predictions
Plenty of goals are in order when these two teams clash, as there have been seven or more total goals scored in each of the last four meetings. While that trend may or may not continue in this matchup, the Sabres should be able to hold up their end of the bargain.
Entering this contest, Buffalo has scored at least four goals in six of its last seven games. Based on their metrics, regression should not be an issue as they rank eighth in the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) at 5-on-5.
The Sabres are getting the production one would expect from the Skinner-Thompson-Tuch line, but the forward group that has really helped ignite this stretch of high scoring is the Peterka-Cozens-Quinn line that now boasts a 63% xGoals% through 92 minutes played together this season. This top six should feast against a depleted Jackets blue line.
Columbus enters this game without defensemen Zach Werenski, Jake Bean, Adam Boqvist, and Nick Blankenburg. Missing so many pieces on the back end, the Jackets' blue line has struggled to hold things together.
At 5-on-5, Columbus ranks just 26th in the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60). The Jackets have now allowed four or more goals in 11 of their last 17 games.
Backing up this defense is goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, who is expected to get the start on the second half of a back-to-back. Through 10 appearances between the pipes this season, Korpisalo is 4-5-1 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.51 goals against average.
While those are not the worst surface-level stats in the world, his metrics suggest that further regression is in the near future. Among starting goaltenders, Korpisalo ranks just 24th in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5.
This regression could be realized against Buffalo, a team he's struggled against over the last couple of seasons. Across his last four starts against the Sabres, Korpisalo possesses a .874 SV% and 3.73 GAA.
Buffalo scored four or more goals in three of those four games, a trend that is likely to continue on Wednesday night.
My best bet: Sabres team total Over 3.5 (-130 at DraftKings)
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Sabres vs Blue Jackets moneyline analysis
The Sabres win games with their offense, so if you are backing them to win, you might as well just take them to go Over their team total instead of laying more juice on the moneyline. While Buffalo is strong offensively, its defense is capable of collapsing in games.
Defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin is still injured for the Sabres, which has hurt their defensive efficiency on the back end. At 5-on-5, Buffalo ranks just 22nd in the league in xGA/60.
Backing up this defense is veteran netminder Craig Anderson, who has been hit-or-miss between the pipes this season. Through 10 appearances in the crease, he possesses a .916 SV% and 2.87 GAA.
However, those surface-level stats are a tad misleading as he ranks just 26th among starting goaltenders in GSAx/60 at 5-on-5. Entering this contest following a string of good starts, he should be able to get it done against Columbus, but the Sabres team total remains the safer play.
Sabres vs Blue Jackets Over/Under analysis
I mentioned earlier that we should trust the Sabres to hold up their end of the bargain on getting this game Over the total, however, Columbus has some issues offensively.
While the return of winger Patrik Laine is good for what has been a stagnant offense, the Jackets’ depth at the forward position is concerning.
Once you look past the Laine-Jenner-Gaudreau line, there is not much to like about this offense outside of rookie Kent Johnson. At 5-on-5, Columbus ranks just 26th in the league in xGF/60.
Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson is due for regression, but that may not come against a struggling Columbus offense that enters this contest on the second half of a back-to-back. The Jackets have now scored two or fewer goals in five of their last six games.
Sabres vs Blue Jackets betting trend to know
The Buffalo Sabres have scored at least four goals in six of their last seven games. Find more NHL betting trends for Sabres vs Blue Jackets.
Sabres vs Blue Jackets game info
|Location:||Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH|
|Date:||Wednesday, December 7, 2022|
|Puck drop:||7:30 p.m. ET|