Tracking the Calgary Flames: Season-Long NHL Picks and Handicapping for Hockey
by Trevor Whenham - 2/4/2015
NHL Predictions: San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames Odds and Picks
It has been a long while since we have picked a Flames game. Between the all-star break, a few games with lousy odds, and the distraction of the Super Bowl it just hasn't happened. We're back, though, and we are dealing with a gem. These Pacific Division foes are separated by just two points in the standings through 51 games - San Jose is in second in the division with 61 points, and Calgary has 59. Calgary has won their last two, and seven of their last nine - including an overtime win at San Jose. The Sharks have taken points in seven of their last eight - five wins and two overtime losses. With both teams playing so well, this game is especially important - either San Jose gets a much-needed cushion or they are deadlocked with 30 games to go and their seasons essentially start over.
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San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames Betting Storylines
There is a real contrast in the last games these teams played before this one. Calgary played their most complete effort of the season in beating Winnipeg 5-2 at home. It was a very boring game - in a good way for Flames fans. Calgary had a plan, they stuck to it fanatically, they were disciplined, and it worked perfectly. A team that played like that would certainly be a playoff team - and one that people would not want to face. Of course, they have not consistently played like that for 60 minutes or they would not be in the dogfight that they are in.
San Jose, meanwhile, has to be frustrated. They were behind going into the third in Edmonton, scored three goals to take the lead, but then gave up that lead late with a brutal lapse that led to the tying tally. Then, after overtime was fruitless, they went into a 13-round shootout that was as inept and sloppy as any in the history of the NHL. It was just brutal, and they lost it. Edmonton, of course, is a truly terrible team, so struggling in a game like that is a real concern. They are just coming off a six-game homestand, but in their last three road games they have lost in Edmonton, struggled to beat a bad Phoenix team, and were absolutely crushed at St. Louis. This is not a team that is travelling well lately.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Calgary's win against Winnipeg was the balance. Twelve different players got on the scoresheet in the game - tough to do when only five goals are scored. Included in that were contributions from non-traditional sources - both Rapha Diaz and Brandon Bollig notched their first goals of the season. Injuries have forced a lot of changes in this roster this year, but when that many guys are contributing it's a clear sign that the chemistry is strong and players are motivated.
One of the big sparks in the last two games has been Mason Raymond. The offseason free agent acquisition has found himself in the doghouse after coming back from injury and has been a healthy scratch far more often lately than he would like. For a while he seemed to be pouting about it, and he looked like he might play his way right off the team. He had an assist two back against Edmonton that should have been a goal save for an unlucky and unnecessary deflection off a teammate's stick and added a goal against Winnipeg. He is playing his best hockey of the season and seems determined to show that he still has some value. If he can keep it rolling here then he could be a factor.
San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames Odds and Betting Trends
Oddsmakers give the Sharks a slight edge - they have been installed as -120 favorites, with the Flames at even money. The total is at the low end of standard at 5.
Calgary has had the edge in this matchup lately, with wins in four of the last five games dating back to January, 2014. San Jose won in December the last time the two teams met in Calgary, though, and the road team has won all three meetings this season. The Flames are 9-1 in their last 10 games against Pacific division rivals. San Jose has gone "over" the total in five of their last six overall, but the "under" is at 9-2-3 in their last 14 on the road.
San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames Predictions and Picks
I like the Flames in this one. They are confident, dialed in, and feeling good. San Jose may not be at their best after the last frustrating outing in Edmonton and have not been as sharp as Calgary lately. It's a close game, but the odds give the visitors too much credit, and that means that there is value in the hosts.
4 Unit Play #56 Take Calgary Flames (even) vs. San Jose (8:00 pm ET Wednesday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 9-6, +14 Units, +$1640.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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