Tracking the Calgary Flames: Season-Long NHL Picks and Handicapping for Hockey
by Trevor Whenham - 11/19/2014
NHL Predictions: Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames Odds and Picks
If you had suggested before the season that when these teams met towards the end of November that one team would have just five points more than the other, I would have considered you an optimist. If you had said that it would have been the Flames with the lead, I would have checked you into a mental facility. Chicago came into the season as the favorite to win the Western Conference. Calgary looked like one of the two or three worst teams in the whole league. So far, though, the Blackhawks have been something of a disappointment - though certainly not one on the scale of Columbus or Dallas. Calgary, meanwhile and as we have discussed ad nauseum, is overachieving to an almost incomprehensible level.
Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames Betting Storylines
As these teams get ready to meet, we can't help but think back to the first meeting between the squads - a 2-1 overtime win for the Flames in Chicago on Oct.15. That game, the fourth of a six-game trip for the Flames, is easily the oddest either team has played this year. The Flames were badly outplayed throughout. Jonas Hiller stood on his head, though, and was able to overcome the 50-18 shot advantage for Chicago and flat out steal the win for his team. It was incredibly unlikely. While the Flames have the edge on the scoresheet this year, then, the Blackhawks have the clear edge in head-to-head play in every way but the one that matters.
As I watched the Flames play the Ducks on Tuesday night, I was struck yet again by how bizarre this season is. Through the first two periods they looked horrible. They weren't skating, and they had just seven shots - an almost impossibly low total for 40 minutes of play. Yet again, though, they rose up in the third period. They took the lead, lost it late, and then won it in the shootout. They just won't die. They are also getting every lucky bounce there is to be had. Effort and luck is only going to get them so far, and sooner or later they will come back to earth to some extent. The massive challenge for bettors is to effectively judge when that will be.
There is a chance for a letdown from the Flames in this one. The Anaheim comeback was an emotional one, and it was clear in their celebration after the win that it meant a lot. They were using it as a measuring stick for their progress, and they passed. It could be tough to bring up the full effort required in this game again right away. There was also an emotional atmosphere surrounding the game. Legendary broadcaster Peter Maher had called every game on radio that the team had ever played before the start of this season. He is a major legend in Calgary, and before the game the team honored him. In post-game comments more than one player said that they won it for Peter, and the crowd was definitely fired up. The game after such a big celebration can be a problem for motivation - especially early on. If the Flames come out flat early on again, they might not get as lucky.
While the Ducks and Blackhawks are both elite teams, and Anaheim has a better record by a significant margin right now, it's important to recognize that the two teams arrive in Calgary in very different places. Chicago is playing their best hockey of the year, with wins over contenders Montreal, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Dallas in their last six games. Anaheim, meanwhile, had lost five of their previous six before arriving in western Canada, and they had just been humiliated by Florida last time out. On the larger scale, Anaheim and Chicago may be close to equals, but right now they are in different places.
Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames Odds and Betting Trends
Chicago is favored at -145 , with the Flames at +125. The total was set at the standard 5.5.
The home team is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings between these teams. The "under" has gone 8-1-1 for the Blackhawks in their last 10 against teams with winning records. The last four Flames home games have gone "over" the total.
Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames Predictions and Picks
Both teams come off wins, but I expect the Blackhawks to keep the winning going. They have played a higher caliber of team recently, and they are generally much more talented. The Flames could be in for a letdown, and Chicago won't have forgotten about the frustration the last time the teams met.
4 Unit Play #63 Take Chicago vs. Calgary (-145) (9 p.m. ET Thursday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 3-2, +4 Units, +$340.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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