Busy Friday night in the NHL and this is our 'Best Bets':
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS AT BUFFALO SABRES:
Jack Eichel may have started his NHL career in better form than #1 pick Connor McDavid but he's been fairly quiet of late. He's still playing solid hockey for a rookie but has been overshadowed by McDavid who is quickly proving that he might even be better than hyped. At any rate, Eichel has a good chance of getting on the score sheet tonight as the Buffalo Sabres host the Philadelphia Flyers at the First Niagara Center.
The Sabres threw everything but the kitchen sink at former University of Miami standout goalie Jeff Zatkoff and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. Buffalo had 53 shots on goal against the Penguins and 84 total attempts on net (including shots gone wide and blocks). Zatkoff made 50 saves and the Sabres lost 4-3. Buffalo coach Dan Blysma might not prefer playing this type of 'video game hockey' but at this point it looks to be the best use of his personnel. Currently, the Sabres are #2 in the NHL in shots per game with 33.6. The Flyers are #1 with 34.1 shots per game.
So why are the Flyers favored here? Much of that is due to the red hot start by goaltender Michel Neuvirth. Neuvirth lost 7-1 to Florida in his first start of the year (only 3 of the goals were charged to him) but has been in great form since. He's not a bad goalie but he's been the beneficiary of favorable matchups—a game against Florida, a game against Chicago (which hasn't been scoring of late) and some mop up work against Boston. That translates to a 1.51 goals against average. But this is his first action in over a week as he's missed time with an 'upper body injury'. He's a bit overrated and the Flyers' defense won't do him any favors. Philadelphia is #27 allowing over 33 shots per game. The Sabres have actually been good in this regard holding the opposition to 26.8 shots per game—tied for fourth best in the league. The Sabres will build on their solid effort in Pittsburgh and get the win here.
BET BUFFALO SABRES +115 OVER PHILADELPHIA FLYERS