Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:35 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. Lots of corrections coming for both teams and for the Coyotes, the corrections are not favorable but for the Sabres, they are. We’ve discussed the luck driven special team numbers or rankings in the past (power play and penalty killing percentages) and over time, both will even out. For proof of those percentages being luck driven, one only needs to check the month to month rankings of all teams for as long as those records have been kept. You may as well throw all 31 team names into a hat and pull them out one by one because that’s what it looks like month-to-month. It’s more common than not to see an NHL team rank 2nd, 25th 14th, 9th, 28th and 3rd respectively over a six-month span from October until March. Almost every team will have those fluctuations and it’s all because it’s a pure luck-driven stat (which we discuss in our upcoming podcast to be released later this week).
Now we take the Coyotes, who rank 1st in the NHL with a 90% penalty killing rate. That’s not only unsustainable, it’s extremely unsustainable with the next best team being six percentage points back at 84%. With Antti Raanta on IR, that leaves two shaly goaltenders trying to maintain that high PK % and it’s not going to hold up much longer. Arizona’s 11 shorthanded goals is another stupid number when you consider that 90% of teams have just three or four.
Buffalo is coming off a 4-3 OT win over L.A, which on paper is not very impressive but on the ice, the performance was brilliant, as the Kings were chasing the Sabres around for 60 minutes plus OT. The Sabres will now face a banged up Coyotes team that is not only missing key players (Michael Grabner, Alex Galchenyuk, Vinnie Hinostroza, Christian Dvorak, Jason Demers, and Antti Raanta) but key penalty killers too. Incidentally, Michael Grabner is not only a penalty-killing specialist, he’s also one of the speediest players in the league. Now throw in that the Sabres are the superior team, home-ice, a goaltending advantage and the aforementioned corrections that are coming and we’ll gladly get behind the Sabres.
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BUFFALO -½ +107 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.14)