The National Hockey League offers up 11 games tonight, including a potential playoff preview in Pittsburgh between the Blue Jackets and Penguins and a key battle for Western Conference playoff positioning when the Avalanche visit the Stars in Dallas.
But I’ve circled a clash between two likely non-playoff teams as the best money-making opportunity on tonight’s NHL board. The Buffalo Sabres/Chicago Blackhawks game might fly under the radar of most hockey fans, but all bets pay the same regardless of the caliber of the teams involved.
Chicago is a -125 moneyline favorite at Bovada as it looks for its ninth consecutive home victory over the visiting Sabres. It’s also worth noting that the total here is the highest of all games in tonight’s action, set at 7 with the Over paying an attractive +107.
If you bet on the National Hockey League regularly, you’re likely already aware of the huge trend in Chicago over the past couple of months. But just in case you haven’t heard, the Blackhawks have been printing money for Over bettors since the calendar turned to 2019.
Over their last 22 games, the Blackhawks have gone Under the total just once — a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting New York Islanders on January 22. They’ve also pushed on the total just once, Sunday in San Jose when their 5-2 loss to the Sharks landed on the Over/Under of 7. That means the Hawks have gone 20-1-1 to the Over in their last 22, even though bookies have tried to adjust by posting totals of 6.5 or higher in all but six of their games during that stretch.
Even the return of starting netminder Corey Crawford from injury hasn’t slowed the number of pucks going into the Chicago net lately. Crawford allowed three goals in his first game back last week in Anaheim, then was lit up for six goals Saturday by the offensively-challenged Kings. And with Chicago well out of playoff contention, there’s no reason for the Blackhawks to suddenly start paying more attention to defense, meaning this Over trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.
As hot as the Leafs have been lately, the Flames have been on fire (sorry, couldn’t What was once a promising season in Buffalo has been derailed into yet another likely spring without playoff hockey in western New York. First overall in the NHL in late November, the Sabres now find themselves 11 points out of a playoff spot in the East.
One huge reason Buffalo’s season has gone south so quickly is the Sabres’ inability to beat anyone on the road. They come into tonight having suffered seven straight losses in enemy territory, largely because they simply can’t keep the puck out of their net. During that seven-game road losing streak, Buffalo’s given up at least four goals five times. Facing a Chicago offense that ranks eighth in the NHL in goals for and averages 3.33 goals per game at home, I see more of the same in store for the Sabres tonight.
When you see a lengthy trend such as the Blackhawks’ Over run, the best strategy is often to ride the wave until it ends. I certainly see no reason to jump off now, given how vulnerable Buffalo has been defensively on the road, how many goals the Blackhawks are scoring these days and how many goals Chicago’s consistently giving up. The Blackhawks moneyline also has value at -128, but I’m taking the Over 7 +107 in a game where I expect both teams to contribute to the scoring.