NHL Betting Preview (Mar 4): Sabres vs Maple Leafs Odds

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
1 month ago
The Leafs will look to respond to Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Bruins, a game which saw the Leafs down two early after an embarrassing first period. The Leafs have played to reverse splits this season, as they own a record of only 17-12-2 at Scotiabank Arena, compared to an 18-6-6 record on the road.
The Sabres have also been better on the road, where they have played to a 15-12-2 record. Since January 1, their 14-10 record straight up has made them a profitable bet.

Sabres vs. Maple Leafs Odds

  • Sabres Moneyline Odds: +157
  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: -189
  • Puck Line Odds: Sabres +1.5 (-161), Maple Leafs -1.5 (+132)
  • Game Total: 6.5 goals (over -110, under -110)
All odds courtesy of Betano and are subject to change. Create your account with Betano today!
Buffalo Sabres
Without a dreadful start to the season, the Sabres would still be in the playoff conversation with their solid play in the season’s second third. Their recent gameplay has still been entirely different than what we saw out of Don Granato’s team last season though, despite a solid record.
In 2023 the Sabres put up 3.57 goals for per game, and led by an incredible season from Tage Thompson, were one of the league’s more exciting teams to watch. Their 2.94 goal-per-game average ranks 24th this year, but they have found ways to overcome modest offensive play recently.
In 24 games since the turn of the New Year, the Sabres have allowed only 2.25 goals against per game. They have allowed a middle-of-the-pack xGA/60 of 3.16 in that time frame, but have overachieved their expected goals against due to a .920 save %.
Ukko-Pekka Luukonnen has quietly been in incredible form ahead of this game and has been confirmed as the Sabres starting goaltender. He has played to a +8.1 GSAx and .914 save % in 38 appearances this season.
Over the last 24 games the Sabres xGF/60 of 2.93 ranks 25th. Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch have not popped offensively like we saw last season, which has the greatest causation for the offensive dropoff. Casey Mittelstadt paces the team with 47 points.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs will look to respond from an ugly 4-1 loss to the Bruins Monday, in what was one of their most important games of the season.  They played arguably their worst period of hockey since the All-Star break in the first period, and rightfully fell into a 2-0 hole as a result.
That kind of letdown period happens to all teams, however, the fact that it happened for specifically this Leafs team in such a big spot, is what has drawn such a negative response.
Toronto’s game from that point on was fine and likely would have often led to more than one goal with any puck luck, but you can’t expect to find success versus a team like Boston trying to outscore easy goals against. They will have a huge opportunity to get right over the next two nights and make Monday’s disappointment a one-off.
A large sample of the Leafs’ recent play does still suggest this year’s team is turning the corner, even if seeing a familiar collapse in a big moment doesn’t make any die-hard fans feel good. They have still won 13 of their last 17 games, and own over 60% of the actual goals in that span.
David Kampf is considered a game-time decision due to illness, but the Leafs should otherwise be at full strength.
The Leafs took practice with a top pair of Morgan Rielly and Ilya Lyubushkin, a second pairing of T.J. Brodie and Timothy Liljegren, and a third pairing of Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe.
The top six will likely remain the same as it has over the last month, while Pontus Holmberg should fill in for Kampf if he can not play.
It’s unconfirmed whether the Leafs will go with Ilya Samsonov tonight, or Joseph Woll.
Best Bets for Sabres vs Leafs:
The Sabres have been on their best run of play of the season recently, and are doing a good job of letting UPL steal low-event, coin-flip-type matchups. Still, they rank near the bottom of the league in terms of offensive chances created over the last month of play.
The Leafs lost Tuesday’s contest because of their horrific no-show in the first period, which featured some egregious errors in front of their own goal. They get a good matchup here to come out and clean things up defensively versus a Sabres offence which isn’t generating much, and a larger sample of recent Leafs play suggests they can do exactly that.
Buffalo’s games have quietly been pretty low event recently, and I think this is a good spot to lean on their recent style of play. You can bet the first period to go under 1.5 at +115, and that is my favourite play from this matchup.
The Leafs deserve to be a slightly larger favourite here than -190, but I have come around to the idea that waiting to see how the game starts makes more sense than laying the big number pre-game. I’ll also note here since it is a popular trend with betting heavy NHL favourites, that betting a favourite to win in regulation for a better price is exactly correlated with their standard moneyline. It’s not some hack that oddsmakers aren’t aware of to bet in regulation.
In fact, per Andy MacNeil, you would be doing worse betting favourites of -190 or larger to win in regulation this season than you would be just laying the juice. That’s not me saying that trend is a rule that has to continue. I’m also not necessarily saying you are wrong to bet on a team in regulation if you really believe in them and don’t want to lay crazy juice. It’s just saying that as a general rule, the prices are the same once you factor in the percentage of the time lose a bet you would have won in overtime.

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