Among the slew of games on the NHL schedule Tuesday night is a matchup between a division leader and a surprise potential playoff team. The St. Louis Blues (18-7-6, first in Central) travel to upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Sabres (14-11-6, third in Atlantic).
Here is a preview for Tuesday night’s game between the Blues and Sabres, along with odds and a pick.
By The Numbers
We’ll start with the Blues, who, after a five-game point streak, have dropped their last two contests. St. Louis is 15th in goals per game with 2.97 on just the 24th-most shots per game. But the defending champs are very good on the power play, where their 22.7-percent conversion rate ranks seventh in all of hockey.
On defense, the Blues are great at keeping pucks out of the net. St. Louis allows just 2.58 goals per game, the fifth-fewest in the NHL. The Blues also have a penalty kill that is near the top 10 as well, having success 83.1 percent of the time.
The Sabres have points in six of their last seven but are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since Oct. 17-22. Buffalo is 14th in goals per game with 3.06, averaging the 21st-most shots. However, the Sabres have scored on the man-advantage 17.8 percent of the time, 21st in the league.
On the other end of the ice, the Sabres allow 3.03 goals a night, 18th in the sport. They also allow the seventh-most shots at 32.4 and carry the league’s second-worst penalty kill, which is successful just 73.4 percent of the time.
Who To Watch
The Blues have a pair of veterans who are hitting their stride of late. David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, who play together on St. Louis’ first line, have been a huge part of the team’s recent success. Perron has four goals and six assists in his last 10 games, while O’Reilly has six assists and seven points in his last seven contests.
Another name to watch for the Blues is Jordan Kyrou, one of St. Louis’ top prospects, who was called up Monday after scoring nine goals in 16 games with San Antonio of the AHL. The youngster has a chance to make his season debut Tuesday for a Blues team that has been hit hard with injuries to its forward group.
As for the Sabres, look for Jack Eichel to continue to play at a high level. The former second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel has 10 goals and 13 assists as part of his 13-game point streak. The 23-year-old Eichel, along with rookie Victor Olofsson (six points in the last four games), will be relied upon heavily in this one.
While the Blues have gotten more hurt, the Sabres are slowly starting to get healthier. Forward Evan Rodrigues returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing seven games due to injury. His return bumped Casey Mittelstadt out of the lineup, as the 21-year-old has just nine points this season.
The Blues will likely go with their regular starter Jordan Binnington, who is 13-6-4 with a 2.45 GAA and .921 save percentage.
The Sabres are expected to go with Linus Ullmark, who has been solid since taking over the starting role, going 8-6-2 with a 2.88 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Odds And Pick
The Blues are slight favorites on the road for Tuesday night’s game, listed at -135. While the Blues are coming off back-to-back bad losses, expect them to bounce back in this one. The Sabres have been wildly inconsistent this year and have had trouble stringing together consecutive games. That, with St. Louis’ huge advantage in special teams and in goal, has me picking the Blues -135 to win in Buffalo.