Senators vs. Flames NHL Odds & Pick: Here’s a Good Spot to Back Ottawa (March 7)

Senators vs. Flames NHL Odds & Pick: Here’s a Good Spot to Back Ottawa (March 7) article feature image

Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Flames goalie David Rittich

  • The Senators enter their matchup with the Flames on plenty of rest, while Calgary played on Saturday night.
  • Matt Russell breaks down why he's backing Ottawa in this North Division matchup.

Senators vs. Flames Odds

Senators Odds+155
Flames Odds-185
TimeSunday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday morning and via DraftKings.

In this space on Thursday, we had our eyes wide open and our ears perked up to the scheduling spot facing the Senators, where they had to interrupt their five-game series with the Flames for a trip to Montreal, while the Flames got to chill at home and wait. Sure enough, the Senators and their goaltender never got off the bus, and Calgary scored on three of their first four shots, and never looked back.

While the NHL isn’t known for its planning, especially not when it comes to equitable scheduling, the Senators get immediate payback for the sticky situation this past week. On Saturday night, it was the Flames turn to have to go to a nearby rival for a game in the midst of seeing a ton of the Senators. Calgary went north to Edmonton for a ‘Battle of Alberta’, while Ottawa was able to refocus and get ready for the fifth game.

Ottawa Senators

It’s hard to get into a players’ head, especially a goaltenders’, but focus seems to be an issue early in games for Matt Murray. When the Senators lose, as often as they do, you know it pretty quickly. Thursday’s loss wasn’t an outlier, as they Sens have found themselves down two goals in the first two minutes more than any other team in the NHL this season.

When they survive early struggles in their own net, the Senators do pretty well relative to their moneyline prices. In this space on Thursday, we avoided dropping a unit by waiting to bet the Sens live. We wanted to see if the Senators would fall behind, and if they didn’t we’d hop in and bet them live at a similar price to the pre-game number.

On Sunday night, I don’t think it’s worth it to wait.

There’s going to be value on the Senators because even though they’re projected as +165 underdogs, my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, makes this game a true moneyline of +131.

This means that without the juice charged by the sportsbook, the Flames would be -131 and the Senators +131. Even in the 7-3 loss in their last game, the Senators actually had the Expected Goals advantage over the Flames at even strength, 1.71-1.43. Getting the Senators at +165 is a 5% edge against the version of the Flames we’ve seen throughout this season and more than enough given they’ve split the first four meetings in the last week and a half.

Calgary Flames

The question will be — is this the same version of the Flames or has recent events provided a change in the teams’ personality or output? Calgary’s win on Thursday wasn’t enough to save Geoff Ward’s job as the now former head coach was summarily dismissed the next day. We’ll have to wait until Thursday to see if the Flames get the 'new coach bump,' as COVID protocols won’t have new (old?) coach Darryl Sutter back behind the bench until Thursday.

It’s hard to say whether the Flames responded to the coach’s firing or whether a big game against their biggest rival is what inspired them in a passionate battle with the Oilers. You didn’t have to go far to find examples of the intensity needed to compete as there were a pair of big time fights in the first period.

Unfortunately for the Flames, they got Connor McDavid-ed in the end, as the Oilers superstar was the difference-maker with a game-winning goal with three minutes to go. Now, this situation shapes up like the one that started this series with the Sens.

The other break the Senators will get when comparing versions of the Flames, is yet another look at David Rittich. While amongst the skaters, familiarity breeds discontent, it breeds confidence when it comes to facing a goaltender. The Sens already have scored three goals or more in each of the four games against Rittich, and with No. 1 option Jacob Markstrom back in on Saturday, it’s unlikely he’ll be doing double duty this weekend.

Betting Analysis & Pick

With plenty of rest, there’s no reason not to believe that we’ll get the good version of Matt Murray, and when that’s the case, the Senators are dangerous. The Flames had a heated game with the Oilers last night, and the quick-turnaround is a lot to ask after they went out of their way to put a top-level effort on tape for the new coach watching at home.

The Senators were behind the 8-ball in the last matchup, and they had the weekend to stew about it. I expect Ottawa to have the early jump and this game to look the most like the first game of this five-game series, when Calgary had to play a hard-fought game the night before on the road.

The Flames gave up two goals in the first 10 minutes in Ottawa after an overtime loss in Toronto, and Rittich was pulled after getting 20 shots fired his way in the first half of the game. While predicting a blowout, and a goalie-pull is a bridge too far, I’m happy at taking a shot with the underdog in a great spot this time around.

Pick: Senators (+150 or better)

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