Flyers vs. Flames Betting Odds, Picks: Can Philadelphia’s Defense Hold Up in Calgary?

Flyers vs. Flames Betting Odds, Picks: Can Philadelphia’s Defense Hold Up in Calgary? article feature image
Credit:

Eric Hartline, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Carter Hart

  • The Philadelphia Flyers head on the road to face the Calgary Flames as +145 underdogs on Tuesday Oct. 15.
  • Michael Leboff breaks down the matchup and details how he's betting the game.

Philadelphia Flyers at Calgary Flames Odds

  • Flyers odds: +145
  • Flames odds: -160
  • Over/Under: 6
  • Time: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
  • Schedule Notes: Flames’ fourth game in six nights

The Philadelphia Flyers were a picture of mediocrity in 2018-19. They finished with 82 points in 82 games and finished with an Expected Goals (xG%) rate of 48.7%. Philly’s ho-hum season led to the dismissal of Dave Hakstol as head coach.

The Flyers came into 2019-20 with an over/under of 90.5 points, so the market had the Flyers pegged for more mediocrity despite Alain Vigneault taking over in goal and the signing of center Kevin Hayes during free agency.

So far things have looked good for the Flyers, especially in their own zone. Not only is goaltender-of-the-future Carter Hart in great form, but the defense is doing its part in getting Hart settled by limiting chances in front of him.


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Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

In his first three starts this season, Hart has posted a .938 raw save percentage and a .952 5-on-5 SV%. Those numbers will certainly regress, but the second-year netminder has been in rhythm in his first three starts.

In 34 career games, Hart owns a .919 save percentage against an expected save percentage of .916. According to Corsica Hockey, the 2016 second-round pick has saved the Flyers 2.6 goals compared to a league-average netminder. Those metrics may not jump off the page, but considering Hart is just 21, it’s an encouraging start to his career.

Philadelphia will likely end up being the slightly-above-average team the market predicted before the season, but there’s enough talent on this team to skate with the best teams in the NHL in a one-game sample. The Flyers have a terrific top-six and the defense may not be great, but it’s not a disaster either.

After a surprising run to the top of the Western Conference standings last season the Flames came into the new campaign with high expectations. I was a little bearish on Calgary compared to the market mostly due to the Flames’ less-than-ideal situation in goal.

Calgary isn’t off to a flying start, winning just two of its first six games, and under the hood things look a bit wonky for a team that had the seventh-best xG% last season. Through six games — a very small sample — the Flames are operating below 50% in xG and they are allowing more High-Danger Chances (HDCA) than they are generating (HDCF).

In fact, Calgary isn’t generating much at all going forward. The Flames are averaging 2.01 xGF and 7.9 HDCF/60 through six games. It’s very early days, but if the Flames can’t cover up their weak goaltending with great 5-on-5 play, things could go off-script for a team that was expected to contend in the Pacific Division.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com.

David Rittich has started five out of Calgary’s first six games, but he’s been below average with a .906 SV% (against a .917 xSV%) and a -1.86 Goals Saved Above Average. Whether Calgary goes with Rittich or former Flyer Cam Talbot, the goaltending won’t keep me off Philadelphia in a good spot.

At +145 you’d need Philadelphia to win this game north of 40% of the time to begin to see value. With Calgary playing its fourth game in six nights, I think Philadelphia is a live underdog on the road.

One thing to keep in mind is that Philadelphia is playing on the first night of a back-to-back, so chances are that Hart will only play one of the two games. If Brian Elliott plays, I’d expect the market to shift away from the Flyers, which could actually create more betting value on the Flyers as bettors tend to overreact to a goalie swap.

With Elliott in goal, I’d wait for Philadelphia to get above +150 before investing.