After finishing with their seventh straight losing season, the Buffalo Sabres will look to turn things around when they take to the ice in 2021. While Washington finished tied for the fifth most victories in the NHL last season, the Capitals came up well short in their quest to win it all last season.
Now, with both clubs looking to get their 2021 seasons off to positive starts when they meet square off in their 2021 regular season opener on Thursday night, let’s find out where the best betting value lies in this matchup of Eastern Conference rivals, along with their NHL odds.
NHL Betting Predictions – Capitals at Sabres
Washington Capitals Vs Buffalo Sabres General Info
- When: Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET
- Where: Key Bank Center, Buffalo, NY
- TV: ESPN+
- NHL Odds: Washington -1.5
- Money Lines: Washington -135 / Buffalo +115
- Total: 6
Why Bet On Washington
The Capitals went a robust 41-20-8 last season to finish atop the Metropolitan standings and third in the Eastern Conference. Washington finished the 2019-20 season ranked a stellar second in scoring (3.4 gpg), 11th in shot attempts (32.0), 17th in power play percentage (19.4) and 28th in faceoff percentage (48.3). Defensively, the Caps finished a modest 18th in goals allowed (3.1 gpg), ninth in shots allowed (30.2), sixth in penalty killing (82.6) and seventh in shutouts (2).
Washington got a team and career-high 75 points from defenseman John Carlson as he dished out a career-high 60 assists. Superstar winger Alex Ovechkin tied for the NHL lead with 48 goals at the age of 35. Jakub Vrana (25), TJ Oshie (26) and Tom Wilson (21) all scored over 20 goals while four other players reached double digits in goals scored.
The Caps moved on from longtime goalie Brayden Holtby and signed former Rangers net-minder Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year deal following 15 seasons in New York. Unfortunately, the five-time Vezina Trophy finalist and 2012 award winner, announced last month that he will miss the entire upcoming season as he open-heart surgery.
“Last 3 weeks my focus has shifted from training camp and the upcoming season to my health and what I can and can’t do,” Lundqvist wrote on his Twitter page.
Now, Washington will go young at the position with Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek listed as the No. 1 and No. 2 goaltenders.
Samsonov has 26 games of NHL experience while Vanecek will make his NHL debut this season.
Washington went a blistering 23-10-3 on the road last season, but fired head coach Todd Reirden after he led them to the 2018 Stanley Cup title. Now, NHL ‘lifer’ Peter Laviolette will lead the team in a new direction. Washington’s biggest move in the offseason was the addition of former Bruins defenseman and team captain Zdeno Chara.
Why Bet On Buffalo
Buffalo went an uninspiring 30-31-8 last season to finish sixth in the Atlantic division and 13th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Sabres finished the 2019-20 campaign ranked a discouraging 21st in scoring (2.8 gpg), 30th in shot attempts (29.3), 20th in power play percentage (18.9) and 31st in faceoff percentage (45.9). Defensively, Buffalo finished 22nd in goals allowed (3.1 gpg), 14th in shots allowed (31.1), 30th in penalty killing (74.6) and 10th in shutouts (2).
Center Jack Eichel scored 36 goals and a team-high 78 points last season while right-winger winger Sam Reinhart added 22 goals and 50 points. Left winger Victor Olofsson added 20 goals and 22 assists, but only three other players managed to record double figures in goals scored.
Buffalo went an encouraging 20-11-4 at home and made a couple of big offseason additions by trading for veteran center Eric Staal and signing 2018 league MVP Taylor Hall to a one-year $8 million deal. The Sabres have the league’s longest playoff drought at nine years.
Expert Analysis and Prediction
Buffalo recorded a solid home record last season and they will definitely be fired up as they look to get off to a good start in 2021. However, Washington simply has too much offensive firepower for the Sabres to keep up with. I’m not real find of Buffalo’s goaltending situation and I’m expecting the Capitals to light the lamp early and often to get the commanding win in this regular season opener.
While the home team is 6-0 in the last six meetings, Washington is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings overall. Buffalo is1-6 over its last seven games while Washington has gone an absolutely insane 102-41 in its last 143 games against teams from the Atlantic Division. I like Alexander Ovechkin and the explosive Caps to get the outright road win!
Pick: Washington 4 Buffalo 2