NHL Betting Guide: Wednesday 3/31/21

The Sabres have blown third-period leads in each of their last two games. Is tonight the night that it all comes together for the Sabres?

It's a six-game schedule in the Chel tonight, with a focus on teams out west. Four of the six games have a start time of 9:30 pm ET or later, which means we'll get our fix of late-night hockey tonight.

Here are a few plays from our daily projections!

Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Sabres +1.5 (-146): 5-Star Rating out of 5
Sabres Moneyline (+176): 3-Star Rating out of 5

The Buffalo Sabres have been knocking at the door over the last few games but haven't been able to break through and get that elusive victory. They are the team to beat on Wednesday when they play the Philadelphia Flyers.

Buffalo had the lead heading into the third period of both of their two previous games. The Sabres allowed two third-period goals to the Boston Bruins and three to the Flyers on Monday before losing in overtime. Buffalo is carrying leads into the final stanza, which reflects their improved efforts, and they should be able to translate that into two points sooner rather than later.

From a defensive perspective, the Sabres are trending in the right direction. Over the last three games, opponents have been limited to an average of 26.0 scoring chances and 8.0 high-danger opportunities. The Sabres' cause is aided by Linus Ullmark, who returned following a month-long absence on Sunday and should be worked back into game-shape after getting re-acclimated to the starter's crease.

The Flyers' offensive metrics have been on the decline recently. The Flyers haven't managed more than 11 high-danger chances or 30 scoring chances in any of their last six games and are averaging 5.9 high-danger and 25.0 scoring chances during that span.

Decreased production and resulted in decreased output, with the Flyers managing goals on only 6.6% of their shots.

The Sabres' advantage tonight is not reflected in the betting market. Based on our projections, they are 54.5% favorites yet priced as steep underdogs. Let's use that to our advantage and take them on the moneyline and pucklines, which are rated as three- and five-star plays, respectively.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames

Canucks +1.5 (-240): 3-Star Rating out of 5
Canucks Moneyline (+100): 2-Star Rating out of 5

Two teams that have underachieved relative to pre-season expectations and are on the outside of the playoff picture meet when the Vancouver Canucks host the Calgary Flames.

The Flames come in with some pretty pronounced defensive metrics over their last 13 games. But that is to be expected when a guy like Darryl Sutter is behind the bench. The Flames have limited opponents to 9.2 opportunities from high-danger areas and 24.9 scoring chances on a per-game basis.

The problem is they've mortgaged their offensive zone metrics for improved defensive play. Calgary is scoring less frequently since Sutter took over, and their shooting percentage is down to 7.5% during that span.

The Canucks metrics this season are bad, but they are improving, particularly on the back end. The Canucks are emphasizing defensive structure, and that is resulting in fewer chances against.

The last time out against the Winnipeg Jets, the Canucks posted an expected goals-for percentage above 50.0% for the first time in eight games. They weren't able to translate that to a victory, but their improved metrics should result in more victories with sustained effort.

Based on our projections, tonight is the night that it should come together for the Canucks. They have a 55.9% chance of winning, which is 5.9% higher than the implied probability of +100. That leaves an advantage in backing the Canucks on the moneyline, rated as a one-star play, and to cover +1.5 on the puckline, rated as a three-star play.