Tracking the Calgary Flames: Season-Long NHL Picks and Handicapping for Hockey
by Trevor Whenham - 2/6/2015
We are getting to that point of the season in which every game starts to really matter, and that is certainly the case here - for both teams. Pittsburgh can move back into first place in the very tight Metropolitan Division - first and fourth are separated by just three points. Calgary isn't going to win their division, but they could finish second. More importantly, they need to keep winning to expand the small cushion they currently have over the teams currently sitting outside of the wild card picture looking in. Right now the Flames have 61 points, and Colorado sits in ninth in the conference with 55 points. It's a fairly comfortable gap, but it could dissolve quickly if Calgary were to stumble. This is far from a frequent matchup - Sidney Crosby will be playing in Calgary for just the fourth time in his career. That will have the excitement factor high in the Saddledome. This is a big game - one of the biggest of the year for the Flames.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Calgary Flames Betting Storylines
Calgary is very strong against their division, but they have not been very good against the Eastern Conference at all. They are only 11-7-2 against Eastern foes and a dismal 3-6 against Metropolitan teams. The teams have met once this year, and Pittsburgh won 3-1 at home. The Flames won their last game against an Eastern team, but that was against Buffalo, so it hardly counts. They had lost seven straight prior to that. That's a problem for the home team. They have not exactly had a lot of luck against the Penguins in general, either. Pittsburgh has won eight straight, so Calgary last won against Pittsburgh on Dec. 3, 2005.
While Calgary has some issues in the matchup, it's not like Pittsburgh is firing on all cylinders right now, either. They have six losses in their last nine games. As significantly, none of the three wins are particularly impressive. They beat a Winnipeg team that is really faltering at home and then narrowly beat New Jersey and Edmonton - not exactly the two best teams in the league. Meanwhile, five of the six losses have been to teams which, like the Flames, would be in the playoffs if they began today. Pittsburgh is not in the best spot they could be in coming into this one. They are 12-6-5 on the road on the season, though, so there is some strength for Pittsburgh.
While the Penguins aren't familiar to the Flames, one player sure will be. David Perron has been with the Penguins for 13 games after a year and a half in Edmonton and six years before that with the Blues. Calgary knows him well, and vice versa. Perron has been reborn since joining Pittsburgh - and that's no wonder because leaving Edmonton is a relief for anyone. He has seven goals and three assists in 13 games. He'll be one to watch here.
A storyline that is getting some play coming into this one is that the Flames are underwhelming on penalty kill - 25th in the league - while Pittsburgh's power play is seventh in the league. That's overrated, though. Calgary is the third least-penalized team in the league, and they have really been disciplined lately. It isn't likely that this alone will be a difference-maker.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Calgary Flames Odds and Betting Trends
For the second game in the row the Flames are home underdogs at even money while the Penguins sit at -120. The total sits at the standard 5.5.
The Penguins have won their last four games against Pacific Division foes. Their last four road games have all gone "under" the total. Seven of the last nine meetings between these teams have gone under the total.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Calgary Flames Predictions and Picks
Against San Jose the play was easy for Calgary - the teams were well-matched, Calgary was playing with confidence, and bettors had undervalued them relative to the road team. The situation is very similar here. Pittsburgh is a better team than San Jose, but they are not in great form right now, Calgary continues to play with real confidence, and the home team is not getting the respect they deserve with this line. That means that there is value here - yet again - on the Flames.
4 Unit Play #60 Take Calgary Flames (even) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (9 p.m. ET Friday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 10-6, +18 Units, +$2040.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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