NHL Predictions: Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks Odds and Picks
It could all end here. The series between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks returns to Vancouver for Game 5 with the Flames nursing a 3-1 lead and looking to wrap things up and give themselves time to heal before the next series. It has been a tough, physical series, though strangely not as competitive as one might have imagined. The opener was a strong one for Calgary. The Flames didn't show up for Game 2, but then bounced back and were clearly the better team in the two games in Calgary. Calgary has plain outplayed Vancouver so far, but can they beat the more experienced Canucks when they are at home and their backs are against the wall? Let's take a look (spoiler alert: the answer is "yes"):
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks Betting Storylines
Since we have seen four games in a row between these teams, we're going to do things a little differently from how we usually do. The Flames are going to win this game. Here are five reasons why:
Speed: What has stood out above everything else in this series is the difference in speed. Calgary has a whole lot of it, and Vancouver can neither match it nor handle it. It has been the defining difference in games. It has meant that Calgary has been able to create opportunities and stifle the opportunities of the Canucks. It has created a lot of frustration for the Flames and a lot of momentum for Calgary. You can't gain speed in two days, and Vancouver isn't going to be any better at handling it than they have been so far. Big edge for Calgary.
Body language: The Flames are oozing confidence, and they are playing with tremendous chemistry. The Canucks look beaten, and they are not handling the physical intensity. Most notably, Kevin Bieksa, who has notoriously annoyed the Flames for years, looks totally beaten as Flames rookie Michael Ferland has made it his personal mission to punish him. The Flames look ready for this test. Vancouver looks ready for golf.
Goaltending: Jonas Hiller has been very good for Calgary. He has made the saves he needs to and stolen a few, too. Eddie Lack was pulled after a brutal first period last game. Ryan Miller was solid, but he has been hard to trust this year. Calgary has a clear edge in nets right now, and that matters so much in the playoffs.
Flames faced adversity, faltered, learned: Calgary is in a tough spot for any team, never mind a young one. They have to go on the road and try to win a series. They have already had their time of coming out flat in a key situation, though. After the nice win in the opener, they were lousy in the second game and never looked like they could win. They rebounded well from that, though. Bob Hartley has been very good at making sure this team doesn't repeat big mistakes - that's the biggest reason they are in this improbable spot. They aren't going to come out anything other than totally ready this time.
Alex Burrows: In a scary situation, Burrows was injured in practice the morning of the fourth game and wound up in the hospital. He had a broken rib and won't play again in the series. He's a big loss for the team - for his production but also more so because of the leadership he provides and the grittiness he gives to a team that can lack it. He leaves a major hole in the roster. Some people are saying that Sven Baertschi - functionally his replacement - could be a factor. Baertschi was a Flames first-round prospect who got frustrated by his slow rise in the Flames organization and demanded a trade this year. This could be his shot at revenge - or so the story goes. I'm not worried - this is his first game with the big team after a long stretch in the AHL, and whenever I watched him in Calgary I couldn't help but think that I would rather have him on the other team than mine. He isn't a big enough factor to make the difference here.
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks Odds and Betting Trends
At Bovada, the Flames are +130 underdogs, with the Canucks favored at -150 at home. The total is set at 5, with the "over" getting the significant play at this point.
The "under" has gone 4-1-1 for the Flames in their last six games following a win. The Canucks are 3-14 in their last 17 conference quarterfinal games.
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks Predictions and Picks
I'd take the Flames straight up, but at this price there is all sorts of value. They will end it and look forward to the next round.
4-Unit Play #79 Take Calgary Flames (+130) at Vancouver Canucks (10:05 pm ET Thursday)
Year-to-date Flames picks: 12-9, +15 Units, +$1888.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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