NHL Betting Guide: Tuesday 5/4/21

Sam Reinhart has seven points over his last five games. Will he be a difference maker against the Islanders again tonight?

There is a modest five-game schedule tonight, all of which are the second night of back-to-backs after a busy 14-game schedule last night. Four of the five games feature road favorites, which means there is value on some home sides tonight.

Here are the plays from the numberFire projections!

Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Islanders

Sabres Moneyline (+235): 2-Star Rating out of 5
Sabres +1.5 (-120): 3-Star Rating out of 5

We are seeing a side of the Buffalo Sabres that we have not seen for quite some time -- their competent hockey side. They will hope to build off of last night's come-from-behind victory over the New York Islanders.

Last night's game was the fifth time over the Sabres' last seven games that they outplayed their opponents at five-on-five. The Sabres have only two wins over that span despite the metrics working in their favor. We're expecting continued success from them as they end the season with more strong showings.

The same can't be said for the Islanders, though. New York has been outplayed in four of their last six and have seen more porous defensive efforts by allowing more scoring chances and high-danger opportunities over their recent sample. Opponents are averaging 9.0 chances from high-danger areas and 25.2 scoring opportunities, which are increases over their season averages of 7.3 and 21.4, respectively.

Another factor working against the Islanders is that they elected to start Semyon Varlamov on the first night of the back-to-back, meaning Ilya Sorokin will likely be between the pipes tonight. The Sabres gave Michael Houser his first career start last night, leaving Dustin Tokarski fresh for tonight's encounter.

The Sabres are improving their play at a time when the Islanders' metrics are worsening. That leaves an advantage in betting the home side, which is reflected in our projections, rating the Sabres moneyline as a two-star play and Sabres +1.5 as a three-star play.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Flyers Moneyline (+150): 1-Star Rating out of 5

The Philadelphia Flyers don't have much to be proud of this season, but last night's victory in the battle of Pennsylvania is a victory in and of itself. The Flyers will look to duplicate that success and take both games of the back-to-back against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers haven't been nearly as bad as their record implies. Philadelphia ranks 15th in the league with an expected goals-for percentage of 50.3% at five-on-five. That metric has been even better recently, as they've posted an expected goals-for percentage above 53.5% in five straight. The Flyers' undoing has been their 31st-ranked save percentage.

Alex Lyon started last night, stopping 35 of 37, leaving Brian Elliott to start tonight. Elliott has faltered at times this season, but he has been much better at home where he's 7-3-2, stopping 90.3% of shots compared to his 87.3% save percentage on the road. His save percentage should increase against a Pens team that is scoring on only 7.9% of their shots on the road at five-on-five.

Pittsburgh also has the disadvantage of coming into tonight's contest without a fresh goalie. Casey DeSmith started the game but was yanked after allowing four goals on 37 shots through two periods. That left Tristan Jarry to come in for the third, where he stopped only five of seven shots. Jarry will be tasked with coming into tonight's contest and improving on his 87.3% save percentage and 3.77 goals-against average against the Flyers this season without the benefit of rest.

In reconciling our projections with the betting market, there's an implied advantage in backing the Flyers again tonight. That aligns with our analysis, which suggests that the Flyers are in a better position than the Penguins tonight. Taking the Flyers to win outright is a one-star play.