Tracking the Calgary Flames: Season-Long NHL Picks and Handicapping for Hockey
by Trevor Whenham - 3/24/2015
NHL Predictions: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames Odds and Picks
It has, for a number of reasons, been a long time since we have checked in on the Flames. Through the absence, though, they just keep chugging along. Their best player, Mark Giordano, is gone for the year with an injury that derailed a Norris Trophy campaign, but they just keep playing well. If the playoffs started today they would be in them, and they are in the midst of a fight to keep that spot that is sure to come right down to the wire.
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With just nine games left every single contest is absolutely crucial, and no loss can be afforded. Games like this one - against teams that are not in a playoff hunt themselves - are especially important. They already lost to Columbus at home in overtime last weekend, so they simply cannot afford to drop two of the simpler games on the schedule in short order. It seems likely that teams will need about 97 points to get into the playoffs this year. That means Calgary needs 11 points in their final nine games. More than a point a game is certainly manageable, but the margin of error is slim. For Dallas the only concern is getting off the ice and onto the golf course for the summer as soon as possible, so the edge in motivation in this one should be clear.
Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames Betting Storylines
Despite not really having anything to play for, the Stars are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now. They have won eight of their last 10 and have wins over both Chicago and Pittsburgh during their current three-game winning streak. They are getting excellent goaltending, Tyler Seguin is healthy and contributing again, and they aren't playing nearly as self-consciously or selfishly as they uncharacteristically were for the first half of the season. If this team we are seeing now had appeared out of the gate then my prediction before the season that this team was going to win the Western Conference wouldn't look so foolish. While the playoffs are all but a mathematical impossibility, it remains to be seen if the prospect of playing spoiler can be motivation enough for this team. This is the first of two against Calgary, and they play Vancouver this weekend, so they have a chance to shake up the tight Western race for sure. For Calgary fans Dallas could be a massive help by losing two to Calgary and beating the Canucks.
The challenge for the Flames here is not to look ahead. This is the last of a five-game homestand that hasn't been as successful as they might have hoped - 2-1-1 is far from a disaster, but they would have hoped for more. After this game they head out on the road for five, and they know that that is going to decide what the postseason fate of this team is this year. A team this young and inexperienced when it comes to the playoffs is always at a risk of getting ahead of themselves. They have largely avoided that this year, but there have been signs recently. Against Columbus, for example, it felt several times like they were already thinking of what the win was going to feel like. They took it for granted, and it never came. Similarly, 10 days ago in Colorado they played like they felt they deserved to win - and they didn't. Dallas is too good to take for granted here, so Calgary needs to come out as hungry as they can in order to come out on top. If they can play like they have recently against Anaheim, Toronto or Philadelphia then they will come out with the win. Anything less and they could be in trouble.
One storyline to keep an eye on here is the status of Jamie Benn. He's the second most important offensive player on the team, but he is suffering from an undisclosed injury, and his availability for the game is uncertain. If he is not available then the task is much tougher for Dallas.
Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames Odds and Betting Trends
The Flames are favored at -130 at home , with the Stars at +110. The total sits at 5.5.
The teams have met just once this year, with Dallas emerging as the 2-1 winner in Calgary right before Christmas. Despite their hot play recently, Dallas is just 1-6 in their last seven games against Western Conference foes. They have gone "over" the total in six of their last seven road games. The Flames have gone under the total in their last five overall and their last four at home. The Stars are 4-1 in the last five between these squads.
Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames Predictions and Picks
Tough game. Dallas is playing so well and is dangerous. Calgary is hungry, though, and should be able to win this one - if they have their heads in the game. The price is about right on this one, but there is some value for Calgary on the puckline, and I'll chase that today.
3 Unit Play #6 Take Calgary Flames (-1.5, +225) vs. Dallas Stars (10 p.m. ET Wednesday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 10-8, +10 Units, +$1220.
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