Sabers vs. Panthers Odds
|Over / Under||7 (+ 105 / -125)|
|Time||7 pm ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Florida Panthers will take the ice for the first time since Tuesday’s 7-6 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs – one of the more entertaining contests of the entire NHL season.
The Panthers will host a Buffalo Sabers team that’s been quite scrappy over the last month and has offered a glimpse into what could be a promising future.
Is this simply a nightmare spot for the young Sabers? Or will they be able to hang around as a massive underdog yet again?
I sure hope the Panthers head into the playoffs playing the type of games we’ve seen of late, but we can safely assume that head coach Andrew Brunette will be preaching the need to tighten up their defense.
Playing a full 60 minutes wouldn’t hurt, either, as the Panthers have been forced to pull off the extremely rare feat of coming back from four goals down twice in a single week – both in 7-6 overtime victories.
Regardless, Florida have still won five consecutive contests, which is an incredible comment toward the potency of this unit offensively.
Analytically, the Panthers are still getting the better of am extremely high-event style of hockey, playing to a 56.97 expected goals rate over those five contests, led by a 3.93 xGF / 60 mark. With Claude Giroux joining the already-lethal top nine upfront and Anton Lundell back in the mix, it seems more likely than ever they can continue to blow teams out of the water, coming with wave after wave of elite offensive talents.
Part of the Panthers’ defensive concerns have surely been prompted by the absence of Aaron Ekblad, which will remain a problem for the group on Friday as they look to clean things up.
Sergei Bobrovsky figures to get the start. He’s had a slightly more shaky play lately and will look to dial it back in after being pulled on Wednesday against Toronto. Altogether, Bobrovsky has played to a +18.8 GSAx rating with a .911 save% in 46 games played this season.
Buffalo scrapped its way to yet another close result on Thursday in Carolina, but after a slow start, the Hurricanes greatly tilted the ice en route to a commanding 4.29-1.56 expected goals score.
The Sabers have clearly been finishing up another developing season admirably with scrappy play of late, but even still have played to just a 49.12 xGF% over their past six contests, and are essentially entering the league’s toughest spot this season on the second leg of a back-to-back in Florida.
Another big reason for concern is that Dustin Tokarski will be tasked with shutting down the Panthers’ lethal attack. He has struggled badly this season, playing to a -9.1 GSAx rating with a .901 save% throughout.
Sabers vs. Panthers Pick
With what we have seen from the Florida Panthers all season long on their home ice, playing to a ridiculous +1.88 goal differential through 35 home games, they should win comfortably – especially when we factor in they’re playing a Sabers team that, even with its improved play, must be considered somewhat middling and is in a back-to-back spot.
Buffalo gave Florida what I felt was a pretty sharp effort in Sunday’s 5-3 loss, and it’s hard for me to feel the Sabers can manage a better result here.
This appears to be another one of these easy-to-predict spots in terms of line movement that we’ve often seen down the stretch of this NHL season. Florida -1.5 opened at -130 odds and sits at -135 as of writing, but will likely reach -155 by puck drop.
I also do not mind that the Panthers are coming in off what was clearly another game that was far from a 60-minute effort, and Brunette should be preaching that his group take this opportunity to cleanup its play heading into the final stretch.
Also, even with the seven-goal total, I lean toward the over. At worst, I would say the under at -125 odds should be far from a play.
Pick: Panthers -1.5 (-130)
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