NHL Picks: Flyers vs. Sabres Odds and Series Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 4/12/2011
Last season the Philadelphia Flyers needed an overtime victory over the New York Rangers in the final regular season game just to make the playoffs. They then proceeded to go on an incredible run that took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they eventually lost to Chicago in six games. This season the Flyers spent most of the season atop the Eastern Conference, but slipped to the No.2 seed in the playoffs after finishing with a 3-4-3 record down the stretch.
The Buffalo Sabres made an early exit from the playoffs last season, losing to Boston in six games in the first round as the No.3 seed. This year they dug themselves an early hole in the standings but were able to rally during the second half of the season, and especially down the stretch, with eight wins in their last 10 games to make in the postseason as the No.7 seed.
These two teams are no strangers to one another when it comes to playoff hockey. They have played one another eight times since 1975 with the Flyers winning five of those series. The most recent meeting was in the 2006 Conference quarterfinals with the Sabres coming away with a 4-2 series win.
This season they split the four games they played with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The latest meeting was this past Friday with Sabres coming out on top, 4-3, in overtime as a -115 home favorite. The total has gone ‘over’ in all four games.
Flyers vs. Sabres Series Odds
Philadelphia at -160 to win this series and Buffalo is listed as a +140 underdog.
Both these teams know how to put the puck in the net, but the advantage here has to go to Philadelphia. The Flyers were ranked third in the league in goals-per-game with 3.12 while the Sabres were ranked ninth with 2.93. Philadelphia would win this category on depth alone, with five players scoring 20+ goals and two more; Danny Briere and Jeff Carter each scoring over 30. Buffalo has two 30+ goal scorers in Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford, but there are just two other players on the roster with more than 20 goals this season.
The Sabres have a slight edge when it comes to scoring off the power play with a conversion rate of 19.4 percent versus just 16.6 percent for the Flyers. They also have the edge in recent scoring trends with 3.1 goals a game in their last 10 verse just 2.7 for Philly.
When it comes to playing defense, the edge once again goes to Philadelphia. The Flyers are ranked 11th in goals allowed as they give up an average of 2.63 a game, while Buffalo gives up an average 2.78, which is ranked 18th. They are dead even when it comes to defending against the power play with a kill rate of 83 percent. The edge in recent trends clearly goes to the Sabres as they have given up an average of just 2.1 goals a game in their last 10 versus 2.8 goals a game for Philly over the same stretch.
The edge here would seem to belong to Buffalo with Ryan Miller in net, but it is not as great as you would think. Miller has a goals-against average of 2.59 and a .916 save percentage in 65 starts this season, but Philadelphia’s Sergei Bobrovsky’s numbers are basically identical in 52 starts. The Flyers also have Brian Boucher, who actually has a GGA of 2.42 in his 29 starts.
NHL Picks: Flyers vs. Sabres Series Predictions
Buffalo comes into this series with the hot-hand and is more than capable of winning this series. That being said, Philadelphia is clearly the deeper team with four solid lines and is much harder to beat on its home ice, especially in the playoffs. This series should go the distance with the Flyers advancing to the conference semifinals with a win in Game 7.
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