Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Buffalo +174 over New Jersey
7:00 PM EST. OT included. The Devils have had a hard time getting out of the gate this season, and therefore have put themselves behind the 8-ball by giving up early goals. New Jersey has been outscored in its first periods to the tune of 8-2 in its six games this season. When you put yourself down night in and night out and you have to fight back just to get even, it's exhausting both physically and mentally. The Devils have not scored first or had the lead after the first period in any of their games. That is going to change, but there are no guarantees that the tide will turn tonight, and the longer the first-period droughts go on for New Jersey, the harder it is going to be to snap out of that slump.
A reason for the Devils' inability to not give up early goals lies with the departures of defenseman Damon Severson and Ryan Graves, whose holes in the back end are elephant-like. There is promise in rookie Luke Hughes, but there is a reason that defensemen take longer to season, and that is because the mistakes that they must learn from are many. Hughes has been no exception, and he might get there this season, but for a playoff team that has aspirations of a Stanley Cup run, a defensive liability that high up the depth chart is going to be a problem, and it’s already an issue for the Devils. No coach on this planet draws up a game plan where the other team scores first, as playing from behind has no benefits, especially when the price to take the plunge for that tough swim back is so steep.
Buffalo was supposed to contend for the postseason, but thus far, the results have not been there, as the Sabres are just 3-4, which is not the start they were looking for. That said, Buffalo has played some tough teams, splitting their games against top-10 competition 1-1, as well as their games against top-16 competition 1-1. The Devils, by the way, are yet to play a top-10 side in strength of schedule that ranks just 30th of 32 teams. The Sabres' top players have been taking a ton of heat for the slow start, and rookie goaltender Devon Levi is now out with an injury, but that dip in stock price and the overreaction to Levi’s injury has the Sabres in a position to be a potentially profitable and pesky pooch. Bottom line is Sabres are too good to be taking back prices like this.
Buffalo +174 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.48)