Thursday evening pucks and a pair of teams from the Atlantic Division will square off as the Buffalo Sabres duke it out with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. The Sabres enter this game off a 3-1 road loss to the Rangers, while the Habs are off a 5-3 road loss to the Rangers. Buffalo won the 1st meeting at home by a score of 4-3.
Sabres Fall Back Below .500
The Buffalo Sabres have shown that they are an improved team, but they also have a long way to go to be a serious threat to get in the playoffs. They started the year at 6-4, but have since dropped four of their last five games to fall to 7-8, which puts them in 5th place in the Atlantic Division. Could their early success have been the only time that they are above .500 for the year? We shall see. The offense was an issue for the Sabres last year, and it has been erratic this year so far. Buffalo has scored just 11 goals in their eight losses this year, compared to scoring 32 goals in their seven wins. They enter off a 3-1 loss to the Rangers and scoring the lone goal was Conor Sheary, which was his 5th of the year.
Coach Housley likes what he's seen in recent days.
"Taking pucks to the net, creating offense.. We're attacking. And the focus and concentration has been really good." pic.twitter.com/WsojCYxeIu
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 6, 2018
Absorbing the loss was Carter Hutton, who allowed two goals on 21 shot attempts to fall to 4-7 with a 2.87 GAA and a .909 save percentage on the year, including 1-4 with a 2.89 GAA and a .904 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 2-2 with a 1.79 GAA, and a .931 save percentage against the Canadiens. Buffalo enters this game ranked 22nd in the league in scoring, putting up 2.87 gpg and 17th in power play conversions at 19.6%. On defense they check in at 13th in goals allowed, giving up 2.92 gpg and 21st in penalty kill at 77.8%.
Habs Also Fall To The Rangers
The New York Rangers had a tough start to their year, but they did beat these two teams in their last two games. They started with that 3-1 win over the Sabres and followed it up with a 5-3 home win over these Canadiens. For Montreal, they have now alternated wins and losses over their last ten games and are sitting at 8-7 on the young season, which puts them in 4th place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal had their chances against the Rangers as they held a 3-1 lead late in the 2ndc period, but the Rangers outscored them 4-0 the rest of the way to grab the win. Scoring for the Habs was Tomas Tatar, who scored twice and now has five on the year and Max Domi, who has now scored a goal in each of his last four games and has nine on the year.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) November 7, 2018
Taking the loss against the Rangers was Carey Price, who allowed five goals on 32 shot attempts to fall to 5-6 with a 2.81 GAA and a .901 save percentage on the year, while here at home he has gone 3-3 with a 3.01 GAA and a .891 save percentage. In his career, he has gone 16-20 with a 1.94 GAA, and a .935 save percentage against the Sabres. The Canadians enter this game ranked 17th in scoring at 3.07 gpg and 26th in power play conversions at 15.3%. On defense, they are 16th in goals allowed at 3.00 gpg and 7th in penalty kill at 83.3%.
- 10-3 in their last 13 vs. a team with a losing record.
- 6-2 in their last 8 games playing on 1 days rest
- 20-45 in their last 65 vs. the Eastern Conference
- 45-103 in their last 148 vs. a team with a winning record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
If we go by the recent trend of the Habs, then this is a game they will win as they are off a loss and have alternated wins and losses over their last ten games. I will follow trend here as I feel that the Habs are the better team and we also note that Carey Price has a 1.94 GAA in his career against the Sabres. The Sabres are 1-6 in their last seven games playing on three or more days rest and the Canadiens are 4-1 their last five home games in this series. Take the Habs in this one.
Prediction: Montreal -135
Full-Game Total Pick
This has the feel of a low-scoring game, and that isn’t surprising as the series has been low-scoring the last few years. Neither offense has been good in the early going, and Price has a 1.94 GAA against the Sabres in his career, while Hutton has a 1.79 GAA in his career against the Canadiens. The Under is 29-14-9 in the last 52 meetings here in Montreal and 16-7-1 in Montreal’s last 24 vs. the Atlantic. That seals the deal for me.
Prediction: Under 5.5
Half-Time Side Pick
I look for the Canadiens to get off to a nice start in this one. The Sabres have played better this year, but they are struggling at the moment and the Habs need to win games like these if they hope to get into the playoffs at the ender of the year.
Prediction: Montreal (First Period)
Half-Time Total Bet
Look for this game to get off to a sluggish start. Carey Price has a 1.94 GAA in his career against the Sabres and Buffalo has averaged 0.63 gpg in the first period on the road. The Habs have not been great on offense and they have averaged 0.75 gpg in the first at home.
Prediction: Under 1.5 (First Period)