Tracking the Calgary Flames: Season-Long NHL Picks and Handicapping for Hockey
by Trevor Whenham - 1/14/2015
NHL Predictions: Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes Odds and Picks
It's a road game for the Flames, but chances are good that it won't feel much like it. The Phoenix area is a very popular winter destination for Calgarians trying to escape the endless chill of a Canadian winter, so whenever the Flames are in town there are more Flames jerseys than Coyotes ones. Given that Arizona isn't exactly lighting it up this year, the imbalance could be particularly strong this time around.
This is technically the second game of a five-game western road trip for the Flames, but the schedule has been so odd that this is unlike any other trip we have seen this year. They played in Vancouver on Saturday and have been off - and at home - since then. It's rare for a team to have four full days of rest - though this is the second time in January that the Flames have done so - and especially rare for it to happen in the middle of a road swing. The time has allowed Calgary to freshen up, but you have to worry about rust at this point. The team was fresh heading into their last stretch of three games, but the results weren't pretty. They were outplayed by the Red Wings in a 3-2 loss. They embarrassed themselves in a 6-5 loss to the Panthers that was a farce of a game. Then they were soundly outplayed by the Canucks in Vancouver but came out on top 1-0 thanks to a truly heroic goaltending effort from Joni Ortio, who was making his season debut for the team after being named an all-star in the AHL. Simply put, they need to be better after this break or this will be an ugly road trip.
Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes Betting Storylines
The Flames have one of those good types of problems in net - mostly. Ortio was called up from Adirondack after Karri Ramo was hurt. Ramo was placed on the IR, but the injury wasn't serious - he has been practicing with the team already, though he was not active for the last practice. Ortio is the only one of the three goalies that has a two-way contract, so he is likely headed back to the AHL - even though neither Ramo nor Hiller has been particularly sharp lately. Ortio is, not surprisingly, getting another start here. If he were to post another excellent game then he could really make things complicated for management. This is certainly less of a challenge than the one he faced against Vancouver.
Ortio isn't the only new face in the lineup here. Drew Shore, who was just acquired from the Panthers, is making his Flames debut. He was first assigned to Adirondack in the AHL but didn't play a game there. His start here is significant - with one more NHL game he would have to clear waivers to go back to the AHL, so by playing him here the Flames are essentially committing a roster spot to him for the year. He's a center, but the team is deep there, so there is a decent chance that he will spend time playing on the right wing.
Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes Odds and Betting Trends
This game is viewed as a toss-up by the oddsmakers - both teams opened at -110. The total sits at the standard 5.5, with the "under" solidly favored at -125 in early action.
The Flames are 5-0 in their last five against the Pacific Division. Arizona is 1-8 in their last nine Thursday night games. The Flames are 2-9 in their last 11 games played in Glendale but 4-1 in their last five meetings overall. Arizona, which is playing on one day rest after losing to San Jose on Tuesday night, has gone "over" the total in six of their last seven games on one day rest.
Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes Predictions and Picks
This is a spot to aggressively back the Flames. The Coyotes have lost two in a row and three of five on this current homestand. Calgary gained some confidence in the Vancouver win and has had some time to work on some fundamentals since. Combine that with a hot hand in net, and the Flames should be well positioned here.
6-Unit Play #17 Take Calgary Flames (-110) vs. Arizona (9:00 pm ET Thursday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 8-6, +8 Units, +$1040.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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