Free NHL Picks: Take Buffalo Plus Odds Over A Tired Ranger Team

Mark Lathrop

Monday, January 25, 2016 4:57 PM GMT

The Rangers find themselves in the challenging spot of facing the Sabres with no rest. Is there a betting angle to be had in this situation? Let's review the NHL odds first. 

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NHL Pick: Sabres +169
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek

 

Sabres vs. Rangers
In a battle between a cellar dweller and a contender in the Eastern conference, the Buffalo Sabres (19-25-4, 42 pts.) visit the snow logged New York Rangers (26-17-5, 57 pts.) in a Monday night primetime matchup. The Rangers have opened as a heavy favorite in this one while having NHL odds as heavy as -203 at Pinnacle on the money line. The O/U total has opened at the all important number of 5 with a shade towards the over at -120 at 5Dimes. If the puck line is your fancy, you will get plus odds backing the Rangers, getting +150 at Heritage if you want to lay the goal and a half.

Buffalo is coming off of a short one game home stand to forget, as they got blanked 3-0 by the Detroit Red Wings. The game didn’t start all that bad, and the Sabres hung with the Red Wings until about 8 minutes left in the third period. Then the damn broke and Detroit scored three unanswered goals to pull away in the end. A positive for Buffalo in this game was their ability to kill the power play. The Sabres have killed 19 power plays in a row now in a span covering six games. At least they have that going for them as an edge going forward against opponents with better records.

Buffalo can’t look to their goalies to blame for their poor season so far this year. Both the regular starter, Chad Johsnon, and backup, Robin Lehner, have been excellent all season. Lehner was the starter in the Sabres last game against the Red Wings, and save 42 of 44 shots. Lehner hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time over the year, and is 0-3-0 on the season, but has a respectable 2.34 goals allowed average and a .934 save percentage. Chad Johnson should get the start in the game against the Rangers though, and brings a 12-12-2 record and 2.36 goals allowed average into the game. Johnson has allowed just one goal per game over his last two; winning efforts against Washington and Arizona.

The Rangers will be coming into this game with zero days’ rest as they played Sunday afternoon, getting shut out 3-0 at Ottawa. The Rangers beat the Senators in every game statistic except for the score, out shooting, out hitting, and out penalty killing the Senators. No matter when you can’t get a puck in the net. The loss to the Senators broke a streak of three winning efforts in a row for Ranger goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. But being that this is a back-to-back for the Rangers, there is likely no way that Lundqvist starts against Buffalo. For those duties the Rangers likely will turn to back-up net minder, Antti Raanta.

Raanta has struggled lately, and hasn’t logged a win since November 15th at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over the season, his numbers aren’t terrible though, as Raanta has put up a 4-4-1 record while compiling 2.30 goals allowed average and a .909 save percentage. Raanta has never faced the Sabres before. The back-up goalie has also started just one game with the Rangers having zero days’ rest this year, and gave up five goals in a 5-4 loss at Calgary in early December.

The series trends in this matchup heavily favor the Rangers, as they are 5-0 SU when facing Buffalo, and 5-1 in their last six against the Sabres at home. The O/U total also has a strong trend, with the under cashing a majority of the time and overall going 2-6-2 in the last ten matchups.

In this rare matchup on zero days’ rest; however, I think we have some value in taking the more rested Buffalo team against New York in this one. I’m not taking the money line, but the puck line at -160 at Heritage looks mighty fine to me. Take a rested Buffalo team to keep this game close as one of your Monday night NHL picks.