Puck Picks, Friday Night: Maple Leafs at Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres will try and make it two-straight wins for the first time all season Friday when they play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Buffalo is 1-8-1 on home ice and playing its first game since Ron Rolston’s dismissal. New head coach Ted Nolan has been hired on an interim basis but spent time with the organization during the mid-nineties including a strong campaign in 1996-97 which earned him a Jack Adams Award. Buffalo was 40-30-12 that season and they enjoyed some great success under Lindy Ruff (1997-2013), winning more than 500 games but things went south in 2013 and Ruff was relieved of his duties. Buffalo went 15-11-5 under Rolston through the remainder of the lockout-shortened season but they are last in the league with a 4-15-1 mark this year.

 

The Sabres have been horrible in the opening period and we cashed both tickets against them in our Tuesday NHL Picks: Kings at Sabres. Tonight they face a Leafs club tied for 25th in first period scoring and the NHL odds for first period betting off the “Under” 1.5 goals at (-135). Ryan Miller has been confirmed for the home side and the Leafs have announced they’ll go with Jonathan Bernier.

 

[quote_text color=”#000000″ text_color=”#ffffff”]In his past three starts, Bernier has given up four goals while turning away 108 of 112 shots for a .964 save percentage[/quote_text]

 

Toronto’s offense has only scored four goals in its past four games and tonight marks their six road game in the past seven. The Leafs took advantage of the Flames and Oilers, also squeaking past New Jersey 2-1 in a shootout but they’ve not been able to keep pace with mid-to-upper tier clubs such as Vancouver, Boston and Minnesota. Nazem Kadri (suspension) is out of the lineup for his hit on Wild goalie Nik Backstrom and the Leafs are thin at center so it makes that moneyline price of Toronto -125 a stay away spot for us.

 

NHL teams have historically played well in front of a new coach and the Sabres will get their chances but we like how Bernier has performed his first season with Toronto and expect this to be a classic goaltender’s duel in front of a raucous crowd split between Leafs and Sabres fans. Here is our suggestion for how to bet this game (3 plays):

Take the first period UNDER 1.5 (-135)

Take the full game UNDER 5 (+120)

Bet YES on the Overtime prop (+260) risking a half-unit

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