I’m in a little bit of a rut with my NHL picks at the moment as last night’s losing pick between the Flyers and Rangers marked my third straight loss.
It was a rather inexplicable contest between the two clubs as the total got nowhere near the 6.5 mark. In fact, the result was the lowest total possible as the Flyers blanked the home side with a 1-0 victory on the back of 38 saves from goaltender Anthony Stolarz who has had very little success at both the AHL and NHL levels this season.
I’ll take that one on the chin and move onto tonight’s pick between the Sabres and Stars from American Airlines Center in Dallas.
*Odds courtesy of Bovada
The Buffalo Sabres will play their second game in as many nights tonight as they travel to Dallas to take on a Stars club that will be playing its first game out of the All-Star break this evening.
It was a nice return to action last night for a Sabres club that scuffled over the few weeks preceding the break. Their 5-4 victory in Columbus marked just their second win over their last six games and just their second road win over their last six tries.
That said, tonight marks a difficult back-to-back for this club, especially considering the travel from Ohio to Texas for this one tonight.
While some might feel that the advantage goes to the club who has already skated after a long layoff (Buffalo), I’m not exactly buying it.
After all, the Stars got themselves out of a funk in their final game before the break when they dealt the Central-leading Jets a 4-2 loss on home ice on January 19th. It was certainly a monkey off this club’s back as Dallas had lost four straight games, including three in a row at home, before that much-needed victory.
It also snapped a brutal offensive stretch for the club. During that aforementioned losing streak, the Stars scored one goal or less in all four games and averaged a ghastly 0.75 goals per game during that time. However, they remained strong defensively as they have averaged just two goals against per game over their last six contests and have allowed more than two goals against in a game just once over that span.
This is where I believe the Stars can win this one tonight. Despite the recent lack of success on home ice, the Stars remain one of the league’s very best defenses and home defenses. Overall, they rank third with just 2.61 goals per game on the season. At home, that number drops to 2.44, good for fifth league-wide.
Looking at the Sabres, there isn’t much to write home about their ability on the road. Buffalo is a solid 14-6-3 on home ice this season, but have struggled to win on the road where they’ve gone 11-12-3 on the campaign.
They enter tonight’s contest ranked 19th with 2.77 goals per game on the road while their 3.19 goals against per game away from home also checks in at 19th.
After Carton Hutton notched the win in last night’s contest in Columbus, Linus Ullmark will take over the crease tonight in Dallas. Ullmark has had a decent season with a 2.93 GAA and .914 Sv% on the season, and he actually has superior road splits, however he’s scuffled of late.
Over his last three outings, Ullmark has posted an .870 Sv%. The catch here is that all three of those starts came on the road. Therefore, after a red-hot start to the season away from home, Ullmark’s splits have come back down to earth.
Ben Bishop is the confirmed netminder tonight for the Stars, and he’s been excellent at home this season. Entering this one tonight, the Stars number one goaltender has posted a 2.26 GAA and .926 Sv% on home ice across 17 starts. Bishop scuffled in the first half of the January, but finished strong prior to the break where he yielded just two goals on 29 shots in that 4-2 win over the Jets.
In a nutshell, I am going to trust this Stars defense to get the job done tonight. Their stout defense hasn’t been enough to get them wins of late, however I believe the break was needed for this club, and I like the fact they tallied four goals in their most recent game.
In addition to the reasoning above, let’s look at some trends. The Stars are 6-1 in their last seven games against the Sabres and are also a tidy 6-0 over their last six in Dallas. The home team has gone 16-5 over the last 21 meetings between these two clubs.
I don’t see much value in the Stars on the moneyline tonight at -170, so I am going to grab them to win this one in regulation time, which is a three-way moneyline play at Bovada.