Vastly Improved Sabres To Ground Flyers For 7th Straight Win

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

The Buffalo Sabres are the most improved team in the NHL, but does that make them a smart home bet at SBRpicks.com Wednesday night against Philadelphia? Yep.

Philadelphia (9-9-2) at Buffalo (13-6-2)Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)Free NHL Pick: Sabres MLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The NHL is dark on Thanksgiving, so it’s a very busy slate on Wednesday with 28 of the league’s 31 teams in action. My cohort Jimmy Murphy will have Blackhawks at Capitals previewed at SBR, while we’re here to look at the lone national TV game: Flyers at Sabres.

It’s the first meeting of the season between these teams. Philly won two of three last year but lost the lone game in Buffalo. Jakub Voracek led the Flyers with five points vs. the Sabres, all assists. Brian Elliott was 1-1-0 with a 1.53 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Ryan O’Reilly led Buffalo with four points, three of them goals, but he’s now in St. Louis. Robin Lehner was 1-2-0 with a 2.04 GAA and .933 SV. He’s now with the Islanders.

Philadelphia is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and is missing its top two goalies in Elliott (lower-body injury) and Michal Neuvirth (undisclosed). Neuvirth hasn't played since Oct. 27, which has been his only appearance of the season so far, but he might be getting close. Elliott was hurt last Thursday vs. New Jersey and expected to miss about two weeks.

Right now, the Flyers have Calvin Pickard and AHL call-up Alex Lyon as their netminders. Pickard allowed six goals on 26 shots in Saturday's 6-5 OT loss to Tampa Bay. Philadelphia actually became the first team in NHL history to rally from a four-goal deficit in the final 10:00 of regulation to tie, but then Pickard was beaten 1:47 into OT. He’s 3-1-2 with a 4.60 GAA and .852 SV. Lyon hasn’t played yet.

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Another. Comeback. Win.

This time it was Captain Jack in OT.#ElectrifyingMoment @FreyElectric ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/uxE1dqL99N

— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 20, 2018
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Are Sabres Cup Contenders?

The Sabres were wretched last season in earning the NHL’s No. 1 overall pick (Rasmus Dahlin) and are now fighting for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They have the longest winning streak in the league at six in a row and are on pace to improve by about 44 points, which is crazy. The goaltending has been much better with Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark – the team’s save percentage was .896 a season ago and is now .912.

Buffalo has an excellent top line of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner (a new addition) and Jason Pominville but might be too reliant on that trio as it has accounted for 47 percent of the Sabres' total goals this season. The Sabres also have a winning percentage of .750 in one-goal games and that’s likely not sustainable.

The team is off a 5-4 OT win in Pittsburgh on Monday. Eichel had the winner at 0:45 of the OT. He added an assist and was the No. 1 star. Buffalo was down 4-1 midway through the second; a year ago, the Sabres quit in that scenario. The six-game winning streak is the franchise’s best since 2009-10.

  • Home team is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings.
  • Flyers are 2-9 in their last 11 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.

This writer is a believer in Buffalo, and it will add to the Flyers’ woes on Wednesday. Philly has dropped five straight vs. the East. Take the Sabres for a Wednesday NHL pick.

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