NHL Odds & Pick for Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames: Which Team has Value in Battle of Alberta? (April 10)
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Leon Draisaitl of Edmonton and Sam Bennett of Calgary.
- No goalie has been worse against any team than Calgray's Jacob Markstrom vs. the Oilers.
- Edmonton has already won five of the first seven meetings with the Flames.
- Michael Ianniello explains why he will continue to back the Oilers.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames Odds
|Time | TV||Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday evening and via BetMGM.|
The Edmonton Oilers will head south to Calgary for the eighth out of 10 meetings this season between the Alberta rivals. However, this season has gone in very different directions for the two squads.
The Oilers sit in second place in the North Division with 52 points, compared to the Flames who find themselves in sixth with just 35.
Edmonton has won five of the first seven meetings and has outscored the Flames 4.14 goals per game to 2.71.
The Edmonton Oilers are once again led by their pair of All-World superstars in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid, the 2016-17 MVP, leads the NHL with a very nice 69 points in 41 games. Draisaitl, the 2019-20 MVP, sits second with 61 points.
McDavid has been especially good in the Battle of Alberta, averaging 2.14 points per game with 15 points in seven meetings. His seven goals against Calgary are his most against any opponent this season.
The biggest difference for the Oilers this season has been their depth contributions. Darnell Nurse has been one of the best defenseman in the league this season. His 0.68 points per game would be a career high, and he is 12th among NHL blue liners with 28 points. Nurse is second in the NHL in time-on-ice and has helped Edmonton improve defensively.
Former fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi is having the best season of his career as well, with nine goals and six assists, and actually ranks second on the Oilers with 9.96 xG at 5-on-5.
Mike Smith will start between the pipes for Edmonton, and he has been terrific this season, amassing a 14-3-2 record with a 2.34 GAA and .922 save percentage. Smith has suffered just one regulation loss in his last 11 starts and has gone 4-1 against Calgary this season. Smith has 4.49 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) this season, good for 12th in the NHL.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
For Calgary, this season has been pretty much a disaster, given the expectations and talent on the roster. The Flames’ .438 points percentage would be tied for its worst since the 1997-98 season. They have already fired head coach Geoff Ward and are expected to be sellers before Monday’s trade deadline.
Flames stars Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano are all having down seasons as Calgary sits 27th in the NHL with just 2.55 goals per game.
Calgary signed goaltender Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36 million contract this offseason, and that is certainly causing GM Brad Treliving’s seat to get warmer. Coming off an All-Star game appearance with Vanvoucer last year, Markstrom has gone just 12-14-2 in his first season in Calgary, and his 3.02 GAA and .898 save percentage would both be his worst marks in six years. Of 91 goalies who have made an appearance this season, Markstrom ranks 86th with -11.34 GSAx.
Betting Analysis & Pick
When you look at the advanced stats, Calgary should be much better than they have been. They have a higher xGF% and High-Danger Scoring Chance percentage than the Edmonton Oilers this season. So why am I backing the team with the worst analytical profile?
The first reason is goaltending. As mentioned above, Jacob Markstrom has been one of the worst goalies in the NHL this season and has lost six-straight games. He has been bad against every team, but his .849 save percentage and 4.62 GAA against the Oilers are the worst against any team this year. On the flip side, Mike Smith has been great for the Oilers, and has gone 4-1 against Calgary.
The second reason is Connor McDavid. To some degree, expected goals is less important when you have guys like McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who are capable of scoring goals that aren’t expected to be goals. For example, there is no way this goal Draisaitl scored the other night was considered a High-Danger Scoring Chance.
The angle: Impossible.
A Leon Draisaitl goal: Very possible.
— NHL (@NHL) April 7, 2021
While the Oilers’ 5-on-5 numbers might not be as strong on paper as the Flames, they also possess the second-best power play percentage in the NHL. That is a good recipe against a Calgary team that gives opponents the second-most power play opportunities. Edmonton has scored nine power-play goals in its seven meetings with the Flames this year.
The Oilers are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, while the Flames have flickered to a 2-8 record over that same span. With Monday’s upcoming trade deadline, there is always a chance Calgary makes a trade before the puck even drops here. The Oilers have been consistently the better team all season long, and I think the current price of -115 is too small for them here in the Battle of Alberta.
Pick: Edmonton Oilers ML (-115) | Play up to -125