Can Tage Thompson push Buffalo in to the NHL playoffs?

NHL Playoff Odds: Buffalo Can Break 11-Year Playoff Absence

Half of the 2022-23 NHL season is in the books. That means we’ve got a clear picture of which teams are good and which ones aren’t so good. But it doesn’t mean we have a clear playoff picture, with a lot of jockeying still going on in the league.

In the East, a group of six teams are separated by only eight points. Four of those six teams currently occupy a playoff spot, meaning two will miss out. In the West, it’s even wider open with seven teams split by nine points and five spots up for grabs. 

Here’s a look at where you could find some value in betting on NHL playoff futures. 

New to betting on hockey? We have a great NHL betting tutorial to assist you in placing a wager on Stanley Cup futures

2022-23 NHL Playoff Odds

NHL 2022-23 Playoff Odds
Team Make Playoffs: Yes Make Playoffs: No
Buffalo Sabres +475 -700
Calgary Flames -360 +280
Colorado Avalanche -650 +450
Dallas Stars -3000 +1300
Detroit Red Wings +1300 -3000
Edmonton Oilers -900 +550
Florida Panthers -115 -115
Los Angeles Kings -180 +145
Minnesota Wild -400 +300
New Jersey Devils -2500 +1100
New York Islanders +270 -350
New York Rangers -400 +300
Ottawa Senators +1300 -3000
Philadelphia Flyers +1200 -2500
Pittsburgh Penguins -380 +290
Seattle Kraken -1000 +650
Tampa Bay Lightning -3000 +1300
Vancouver Canucks +1500 -4000
Vegas Golden Knights -650 +450
Washington Capitals -120 -110
Winnipeg Jets -1000 +650

While no team has clinched a playoff spot or been eliminated from one at this stage of the season, sportsbooks have stopped taking bets on some of the teams that seem sure to do one or the other. That’s why the above table only shows odds for 21 of the 32 NHL teams.

Teams like Boston with its 24-point cushion over the second wild-card team in the East are a lock to make the playoffs. Conversely, the Blackhawks are tanking and want to be as far away from the playoff picture as possible. Sportsbooks aren’t taking bets on either side and a few others like them. 

Buffalo Sabres To Make The Playoffs (+475)

I know this Buffalo Sabres side still needs some work, but this bet isn’t asking whether they can win the Cup, the division or even a playoff round, only if they can get in. And it absolutely can happen for the Sabres.

At the time of writing, the Sabres are four points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. To take that spot, they’ll have to leapfrog the Penguins, Panthers and Islanders. Buffalo already has a better points percentage (.544) than the Panthers and Islanders (both at .531). The Sabres have three games in hand on both, so catching Florida and the team from Long Island seems very likely.

But can they catch the Penguins, who hold the final wild-card spot in the East?

An aging lineup coupled with injuries to key players like Kris Letang have begun to take their toll. Zoom in on the Penguins’ last five games and you’ll see a side that’s 2-2-1. The two wins came against the Ducks (in overtime) and the Senators, two of the worst sides in the league. 

Since the new year, the Sabres rank sixth in the NHL for Corsi (CF%) at 54.23 percent, ninth in expected goals (xGF%) at 52.89 percent and third in scoring chances (SCF%) at 55.23 percent, all at 5-on-5. The Sabres are playing a solid game and carving out way more chances than they’re giving up. That’s a style of hockey that leads to points adding up in the standings.

Comparatively, the Penguins rank 11th for CF%, 15th for xGF% and 14th for SCF%. That’s why we’ve seen them start to slip recently. The underlying numbers show that they aren’t exactly playing winning hockey. 

So yes, the Sabres can catch the Penguins. And yes, the Sabres can hit on their +475 odds to make the playoffs.

Calgary Flames To Miss the Playoffs (+280)

Is everything OK with Darryl Sutter? His recent quip about rookie Jakob Pelletier would have been the most disrespectful thing in the NHL this week if not for the live tire fire in Vancouver right now. 

Maybe Sutter shouldn’t be so cheeky with his side going 3-2 in its last five games and sitting outside the playoff picture.

Just like the Sabres, the question for the Flames is if they can catch any of the teams they’re chasing. At the moment, that’s specifically the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado is level on points with Calgary at 53 but the Avs hold the final wild-card spot thanks to a better points percentage (.589 to Calgary’s .564).

According to Tankathon, the Flames have an easier remaining schedule than the Avalanche (1.038 SOS to Colorado’s 1.061 SOS). But that’s a marginal advantage in Calgary’s favor that can easily be negated with the Avalanche getting healthier.  

Captain Gabriel Landeskog hasn’t played yet this year due to knee surgery but has been skating and could soon return to the lineup. Landeskog had 30 goals and averaged 1.16 points per game last year. Getting that type of player back into the lineup is massive. Think of it as acquiring a top-line winger at the trade deadline for nothing.

You can see why the case against the Flames is piling up, right? Now add in that some of the Flames’ key players have been less than key for them this year.

Netminder Jacob Markstrom has struggled this year with a 2.82 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. That’s a huge drop in form by the 2021-22 Vezina Trophy runner-up, who finished last season with a 2.22 GAA and .922 save percentage.

And what about Jonathan Huberdeau? Acquired in a blockbuster trade during the offseason, Huberdeau is nowhere near the 115-point player he was in ’21-22. With 32 points in 44 games, he’s on pace for just 60 points. The Flames are effectively getting only half the player they thought they were getting with Huberdeau. 

With key players struggling and a conference rival trending upward, Calgary’s +280 odds to miss the playoffs seem like a good bet to wager on.