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NHL Odds & Pick For Flames vs. Senators: Can Flames Bounce Back From Blowout Loss?

NHL Odds & Pick For Flames vs. Senators: Can Flames Bounce Back From Blowout Loss? article feature image

Steven Kingsman/Getty Images. Pictured: Ottawa Senators Defenceman Erik Brannstrom (26).

  • Calgary has scored just one goal in five of its last six games, including in Thursday's loss to Ottawa.
  • Meanwhile Ottawa hasn't scored fewer than three in its last four games and put six past the Flames the last time on ice.
  • Matt Russell explains why he's taking the underdog Senators on Saturday.

Flames vs. Senators Odds

Flames Odds -165
Senators Odds +140
Over/Under 6.0
Time | TV Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.

According to one of the few pieces of Greek mythology that I know, Icarus flew too close to the sun, his wings made of wax melted and he fell into the sea and drowned. 

Maybe it wasn’t quite so dramatic for Calgary, even if flames were involved yet again. While it wasn’t due to complacency or hubris, David Rittich fell victim to hockey’s version of Icarus’ fate. After metaphorically, and at times almost literally, standing on his head in a pair of games in Toronto, the Flames No. 2 goaltender was tabbed for a third game in four nights in Ottawa on Thursday. The decision to send out the tired Rittich burned the Flames.

Calgary Flames

The scheduling spot for Calgary was a nightmare on Thursday. Even before you factored in how the Flames were missing their big money No. 1 goaltender, playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto is always a circled spot on the schedule. Having to hop on a flight to Ottawa, which is sneaky-far from Toronto, was only going to make matters worse. 

Rittich gave up four goals on 20 shots midway through the game and was removed after giving up one of the softest goals of the season on a long shot from outside the Flames’ defensive zone.

The underlying issue for the Flames in those Rittich stats is the fact that he faced 20 shots in the first 28 minutes of the game against the Senators. If exhaustion is the excuse for that many shots peppered at Rittich on Thursday, what is Calgary’s reason for the 39 shots given up the night before in Toronto? On the Flames four-game road trip, they’ve allowed 43 High-Danger Chances at even-strength (league average would 32 over 4 games).

Offensively, the Flames were deemed a good bet to struggle in this space on Wednesday, and not much has necessarily changed after mustering just five High-Danger Chances 5-on-5 on Thursday, and three in Toronto the night before.

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.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators took advantage of the Flames’ tired state to dominate play at even-strength, with another double-digit showing in the High-Danger Chance column. Ottawa is creeping up in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. In winning five of their last seven games, the Sens are just 3% below average at even-strength in the North Division. 

Those early-season losses in games when they could have won have started to turn into wins as the goaltending has improved. Matt Murray has provided some stability when the team in front of him allows a High-Danger Chance. In Murray’s five starts during this stretch of success, the Senators have given up 38 such chances, but Murray has stopped all but three of them. 

From an offensive standpoint, the Senators aren’t creating more HDC than they have this season. They’ve always been pretty good at doing so at even-strength. What they have been better at, is converting those chances into goals. The Sens have 11 goals on 55 High-Danger Chances in their last 7 games, which is good for a 20% conversion rate, which is almost double their rate prior to this run.

If I was to assign a narrative to this, I’d say the young players on the Senators are getting a little more comfortable with how much time they have, and are taking better advantage of these opportunities.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

This is another quick turnaround for the Flames with the early start on Saturday, and as of this writing, there’s no sign of Jacob Markstrom coming back to save the day. I expect Rittich to be back between the pipes for the Flames, but he’s a goaltender whose success prior to Thursday was more of a surprise than were his struggles in Ottawa. 

For the Senators, the net is Murray’s right now, after three straight wins this week. The skaters in front of him have as much confidence as they have had all season, and it’s translated into goals. Right now the Flames offence isn’t capable of making up for defensive lapses and soft goals. My model spits out a win probability for this game betting 52% in favour of Calgary, but I expect the moneyline to look similar to Thursday’s which had the Flames a -150 favourite. If that’s the case, backing the Senators at +125 is worth a bet. Hopefully we don’t crash and burn. 

Pick: Senators (+125 or better)

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