It’s not the most enticing game on Thursday night when the Boston Bruins have a rematch with the Buffalo Sabres. It should be another easy victory for Boston (26-12-6), just like Tuesday night was. The Bruins will be -320 betting favorites and -1½ (-115) on the puck line. Both are worth a gander.
To the credit of Buffalo (12-27-7), the Sabres have been a little bit better lately. Considering they are missing both of their main goaltenders and their best players, they have won six of their last 12 games. A .500 record is like a winning streak for this team that just recently tied an NHL record for not winning games.
Bruins: Hall Aboard
Call the Bruins many things: grizzled, rugged or just plain old. But this team is winning games even when it’s on cruise control. Like on Tuesday night against Buffalo, the Bruins were swarming all over the Sabres even at half-intensity in their 2-0 victory.
Even if it’s Buffalo, it just shows that this Boston team has been doing this for so long “they can do it in their sleep.” The team is dealing with a slew of injuries, mostly to its blue line, and yet it’s maintained a top-10 defense and the best one in the division.
The Bruins went and got Taylor Hall from Buffalo. The former Hart Trophy winner has already paid dividends and has matched his goals total in Buffalo in just three games. They’re unbeaten (5-0-0) with him in the lineup and that’s not by fluke.
Taylor Hall in Buffalo: 2 goals in 691:04.
Taylor Hall in Boston: 2 goals in 35:19.
— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) April 17, 2021
Boston ranked among the worst teams in the league in generating scoring chances and converting them. Hall has already helped fix these problems as the Bruins have averaged 3.6 goals with him in the lineup.
Sabres: New Faces, New Sabres
Buffalo is not the worst team in the NHL. At least, not in their last 12 games. The team actually has a positive goal differential (+six) thanks to some big wins over Philadelphia and Washington.
The Sabres finally got their scoring back on track, averaging 3.33 goals since the end of March. All it took was playing the slumping Flyers twice. In terms of betting, the Sabres have been a total cash cow. Yes, this is not a typo: Buffalo has been muy rico since snapping its losing skid.
The team has gone 10-2 on the puckline and all its six wins came as an underdog. Returning forward Rasmus Asplund has been a revelation for the Sabres while emergency goalie Dustin Tokarski has also stepped up.
Asplund has helped the Sabres kick-start their scoring. The Sabres are shooting 11.2 percent with him on the ice while Tokarski is posting a .930 save percentage for April and has made 34 or more saves in each of his last three starts.
So close yet so far. Even if Buffalo is “thriving,” Tuesday’s game was sobering and showed just how far this team is from a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. While Buffalo did pull off upsets against Pittsburgh and Washington, Boston is another beast.
The Bruins have now improved on their NHL betting odds thanks to the addition of Hall. He’s the missing piece to their team as he gives their scoring the extra oomph it needs.
Tokarski played admirably in Tuesday’s loss and the score could’ve been worse if he didn’t stand on his head to stop 39 of Boston’s 41 shots. Still, Buffalo could barely get anything going.
The Bruins should win this one again and, instead of the money line, take them to win by two or more goals for a better return. Additionally, I don’t see much scoring going on here as Boston continues to shut down Buffalo.