Tracking the Calgary Flames: Season-Long NHL Picks and Handicapping for Hockey
by Trevor Whenham - 12/4/2014
This game is, in so many ways, like a team playing themselves in the mirror. The Colorado Avalanche at this point last year had much in common with Calgary this year. They were a very young team that was playing to the absolute maximum of their capabilities because of outstanding play from young players, very strong coaching, good goaltending, and benefiting from every possible bounce going their way. They were atop their division for a long time, and they rode their momentum all the way into the playoffs. Sounds a lot like the path Calgary is on now.
The Flames will be hoping to avoid the fate that has befell the Avs this year, though. Those young players are struggling, the coaching isn't getting through in the same way, goaltending has been far from great, and this team already is pretty much just playing out the string. It shows just how hard it is to maintain momentum and build a long-term contender in this league - a lesson that we learned from the Islanders last year and countless others before them.
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Betting Storylines
This game marks a bit of a homecoming for two members of the Avs. Jarome Iginla was the captain and superstar at the core of the Flames forever before being traded to the Penguins at the trade deadline two years ago. This is not his first time back, but it is the first time for him in Avalanche colors. Alex Tanguay left two years ago after two stints with Calgary totaling five seasons over seven years. He was with the Avs last year, but injuries limited him and he never played in Calgary. When Iginla first returned to Calgary it was a major event. I expect it to be a non-factor now. Few of the players on the team - especially the young core - were around when he was here, and almost none were here when he was at his prime. Fans credit a lot of this team's current success to the decision to trade Iginla and move on from the past. Tanguay was popular enough but never a major star for the team. These two returning will have much less impact on the game than they could.
Rookie Josh Jooris netted a hat trick on Tuesday against the Coyotes, so he warrants more discussion here. I am not sure that there is a more pleasant surprise in the entire NHL this year than Jooris. He joined the Flames organization before last season as an undrafted free agent out of college. He was in camp last year but as an afterthought. He was viewed by most as just a camp body heading into this year's preseason, but consistently strong play got the attention of those that mattered. He started his season in the AHL but was the first call-up. It seemed like he wouldn't be here for long - the Flames are more aggressive with call-ups and shifting their roster between the NHL and AHL than most organizations. He started with a goal in his debut, though, overcame a minor injury, and hasn't looked back since At this point he might as well buy a house in Calgary. In so many ways he is a microcosm of what this team is doing this year - a reasonably-talented-but-easy-to-overlook player who is hitting on all cylinders because of excellent coaching, being surrounded by strong leadership, and having a relentless commitment to discipline and responsible play.
As I write this I don't know who will be in net, but Karri Ramo seems like a good bet. His two-game shutout streak ended last time out, but he was still excellent, allowing just two goals on 29 shots. If he is the choice, he is obviously easy to trust at this point - though Hiller would be fine, too. It's worth noting that Ramo only joined the Flames last year, and Hiller is new this year, so neither Iginla nor Tanguay has any inside knowledge on how to deal with them.
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Odds and Betting Trends
Calgary sits as -140 favorites in this one , with the Avalanche at +120. The total opened at the standard 5.5.
The "over" has gone 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings between these teams. Four of the last five games for the Avalanche have gone over the total. Each of the last seven home games for the Flames have gone over the total.
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Predictions and Picks
No choice here but to keep running with the hot hand. The Flames have won three in a row and are playing with tremendous confidence. Colorado isn't playing nearly as well and heads onto the road after another frustrating homestand. This is Calgary's game to lose, and we'll bet that they won't.
4 Unit Play #70 Take Calgary vs. Colorado (-140) (9 p.m. ET Thursday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 6-2, +16 Units, +$1880.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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