NBC Sports has the most interesting matchup of the NHL slate tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs are one of the better road teams in the league as they’ve gone 17-13-3 away from the Air Canada Centre this season. This is part of the reason oddsmakers have made Toronto -175 road favorites for the 3/5 NHL free pick. That being said Toronto has dropped three straight games – all on the road – while the Sabres come in after winning two of their last three. Is the real value on the Sabes tonight?
Can the Maple Leafs Survive Without Matthews?
Toronto has gone 1-1-2 since Auston Matthews went down with a shoulder injury but the Leafs still have a strong hold on the 3rd seed for the Eastern Conference postseason. The injury isn’t as big of a setback in the 3/5 NHL free pick against Buffalo considering the Sabres leading goal scorer Jack Eichel will also miss this contest – on the DL with a lower body injury. The Leafs will post a more physical presence on Monday as the former NHL hits leader Matt Martin returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last 18 games.
The Maple Leafs could use some toughness after getting ‘beat up’ 2-5 against Washington on Saturday. The Caps scored 3 first period goals in that contest and Maple Leafs starting goaltender Frederik Andersen couldn’t make it out of the second period before being yanked. Andersen gets the nod again Monday but his 7-2-1 record over his last 10 is a bit misleading. The goaltender has allowed 3+ goals in 8 of his last 9 starts but has largely been bailed out by Toronto’s 7th ranked scoring defense. Does that trend continue against a Sabres defense that is ranked 27th in the NHL in goals allowed?
Is Buffalo a Tempting +155 Home Underdog?
The Sabres are on their home ice tonight but is that really an advantage considering the team is 9-18-3 at the KeyBank Center? Buffalo does have two impressive wins in their last four games at home however. They beat Boston 4-1 last Sunday as +227 and notched a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay five games prior as +152. Other than that four of the last five Sabres games have been on the road but they are 3-2 over that span. The Sabres still have the second fewest points in the league however.
Chad Johnson is in net for the Sabres for the 3/5 NHL free pick and he’s had some moderate success lately. Johnson is 4-1 in his last 5 decisions and has allowed just four total goals in his last three starts. Buffalo is coming off a pretty severe loss of their own after dropping a 1-4 contest to Florida on Friday night. They do have an extra day of rest compared to Toronto which could be an advantage tonight.
3/5 NHL Free Pick Betting
The Maple Leafs are 7-1 in their last 8 games on 1 days rest but are 1-5 in their last 6 road games. That being said Toronto has struggled with the Sabres going 13-38-2 in the last 52 meetings at the KeyBank Center. The home team has gone 24-6 in the last 30 meetings and with Matthews out and Andersen struggling a bit in goal the value bet is the Sabres again tonight.
Free Pick: Buffalo Sabres +155