Avalanche at Flames Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/31/2013
This is supposed to be a hectic, compact season thanks to the lockout, but the Flames apparently didn’t get the memo. They beat Edmonton on Saturday night to earn their first win, and they have been off since. For bettors, the trick here is to determine whether that will be a positive — a second training camp of sorts to iron out the kinks and play some better hockey than they have — or a negative early on. Colorado will be comparatively exhausted heading into this one. This is the fourth game of a road trip that saw them in San Jose Saturday, Edmonton Monday, and Vancouver Wednesday. There isn’t an easy game in that group, so there could be some bumps and bruises — physical and mental — heading into this one.
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These teams have some striking similarities. Colorado is generally younger than Calgary, but if things were to play out exactly as expected both teams would likely be sitting outside of the playoffs looking in. They both have some nice pieces, but there are issues aplenty as well, and those issues generally eclipse the strengths. That’s a fancy way of saying that it’s hard to be hugely optimistic about either team in the short- to medium-term.
Avalanche at Flames Betting storylines
I’m largely bearish on the Flames — and not just because they are my hometown team and I have been forced to endure their mediocrity for far too long. There is at least one bright spot this year, though. They have scored five power play goals in 17 attempts this year. The sample size is obviously small, but for a team that has struggled to be consistent with the man advantage in recent years, it is a promising beginning.
The break for the Flames comes at a good time. Their biggest offseason changes involved two Czech free agent acquisitions — Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka. Hudler has been solid if inconsistent with the Red Wings, while Cervenka has been an offensive force in the KHL. The start of the season was delayed for both, though — Cervenka due to the aftermath of a blood clot, and Hudler due to family issues. They both returned for the last game, but both showed signs of rust. This break allows them to practice with the team, get comfortable with the system and the linemates, and hopefully find their way to excel. If this team does want to be a playoff contender, then these two will have to be a big part of the puzzle.
Colorado will be looking to continue the shorter-term trend in this one instead of the longer-term one. The Avalanche won the two games played last March between the teams. Up until then, though, Calgary had a nine-game winning streak before that, though, and they outscored the Avs 32-14 over the last eight. Colorado only scored more than two goals once over that stretch, while the Flames did it six times. The first of those games was on New Year ’s Eve in 2010, so it’s not like the Flames were in their glory years during that stretch.
Colorado needs to find a way to contend in the second period of games. There is no good reason why a team should struggle in the middle stanza, but the Avs have. Through five games they had yet to score in the period and had allowed six goals. They have also been outshot badly, whereas they have been competitive in the other two. The only explanation is that they are a team that lacks focus. It’s not conditioning — they have outplayed their opponents in the final period.
Avalanche at Flames NHL Odds and Betting Trends
Sportsbook.ag has the Flames favored at -165, compared to +145 for the Avs. The total is set at the standard 5.5, with the “under” favored at -130.
The under is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings between the teams. The Avalanche are a surprising 7-1 in the last eight times they have played their third game in four nights and 7-1-1 in their last nine games on no rest. Calgary is 4-11 in their last 15 games against Western Conference opponents.
Avalanche at Flames Picks and Betting Predictions
I don’t like the Flames in the long term, but I like them here. The Flames are well-rested, and they should be more prepared than they have been so far because new coach Bob Hartley has had time to get more work in with his team. The addition of the two Czech players is significant, and they should be in good form here. Colorado will be worn down and far from their best. Calgary is the pick.
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