NHL Betting Preview (Mar 30): Maple Leafs vs Sabres Odds

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
21 days ago
The Leafs 9-3 loss December 21st in Buffalo was likely the low point of the entire season. They will hope to show better in their first game bank at KeyBank Center Saturday, as they catch the Sabres playing in night two of a back-to-back situation.
I’ll outline the relevant game notes below, as well as hand out my best bet.

Maple Leafs vs Sabres Odds

  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: +122
  • Sabres Moneyline Odds: -143
  • Puck Line Odds: Maple Leafs -1.5 (-223), Sabres +1.5 (+167)
  • Game Total: 6.5 goals (over -122, under +100)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto snapped it’s two game losing streak Thursday, as it completely dismantled the Capitals in a 5-1 victory.
While every loss does seem to draw a big response from Leafs observers, they have remained one of the leagues most consistent sides recently.
Since the turn of the new year the Leafs 24-12-2 record ranks sixth in the league. They rank fourth in shots for per game in that time frame, but have also allowed the sixth least shots against. They have suffered through a worse than average injury situation in that time frame as well.
Nobody should be overly concerned about what the Leafs do in the regular season, and when you take a wider scope, its easy as a neutral observer to see they have been playing fine.
The big story surrounding this matchup will be Auston Matthews pursuit of a 60th goal. He pushed hard for the tally Thursday, putting ten shots on goal from 14 attempts. He, Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi played to a 73.3% expected goal share in that matchup, and combined for 17 shots at even strength.
In 54.4 minutes together Domi, Matthews, and Bertuzzi own a 61% expected goal share and have been visibly excellent. Sheldon Keefe will certainly have some options to consider when Mitch Marner returns to the lineup, which is far from a bad problem to have.
Morgan Rielly is set to remain on the sidelines for this matchup, which means we will likely see the Leafs skate the same defensive core as they did Thursday.
Ilya Samsonov is confirmed as the Leafs starter for this matchup. He has played to an .889 save % and 3.12 GAA in 34 appearances this season.
Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres showed some real character in last night’s win, as they dug out of an early 2-0 hole, which included a highly unlucky opening tally from Max Willman.
Still, their recent defensive flaws were on display in that contest, which was honestly a pretty ugly affair considering the stakes. The Devils had three full fledged breakaways, and could have had six if not for three makable stretch passes going uncompleted.
Since the addition of Bo Byram on March 7th, the Sabres have allowed 3.86 xGA/60 across 11 games. Only the Coyotes and Blue Jackets have allowed more chances against in that span. Despite better than average goaltending, they have still allowed 3.18 goals against where it counts in that span, too.
Tage Thompson was brilliant last night, and is obviously a better player than he has shown for much of this season. Sabres coach Don Granato wisely reunited him with J.J. Peterka at even strength, which provides a much more offensively capable unit than when Jordan Greenway is in that role.
Over the last 11 games the Sabres rank 22nd in xGF/60. Casey Mittelstadt left a massive hole as the teams second line center, and Dylan Cozens continues to offer far lesser play than we saw a year ago in that role.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is expected to start Saturday. He has played to a .911 save % and 2.57 GAA across 47 appearances this season.
Best Bets For Leafs versus Sabres:
Toronto has displayed a significantly sharper defensive game recently than that of the Sabres. Even without Rielly and Marner, we should still expect the Leafs to own the vast majority of the play in this spot. The price to back the Leafs actually looks short to me, and I would bet Toronto down to -160.
I’ll stick with the square bets and suggest Matthews to score his 60th at -128 too. He has scored a single goal in 52.11% of games played this season, which would imply a betting price in the -111 under normal circumstances.
However Matthews has elevated his game in the time since Marner went sidelined, and his chance creation totals have actually elevated playing on a line with Domi and Bertuzzi. In a better than average matchup to create offence, I actually believe it’s worth paying the tax to bet into the narrative that Matthews hits 60 tonight.
Best Bets: Leafs Moneyline -154, Auston Matthews Anytime Goal -128

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