Friday NHL Betting Odds & Pick for Jets vs. Flames: Calgary Undervalued Against Winnipeg (March 26)

Friday NHL Betting Odds & Pick for Jets vs. Flames: Calgary Undervalued Against Winnipeg (March 26) article feature image

André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Milan Lucic.

  • The Calgary Flames host the Winnipeg Jets in Friday's NHL action.
  • Winnipeg is nipping on Toronto's heels in the North Division, sitting just two points behind the leader.
  • Matt Russell explains below why he thinks Calgary enters this game undervalued on home ice.

Jets vs. Flames Odds

Jets Odds+105
Flames Odds-125
TimeFriday, 10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM

I don’t often literally rub shoulders with actors and actresses in Hollywood, but that literally happened over seven years ago, when my friends and I found ourselves in a Hollywood elevator with Jessica Walter.

The vitriolic mother in "Arrested Development" became a legendary character. As a result, neither myself,  nor my one friend who was also a fan of the show were able to muster anything to say in her presence.

When Lucille Bluth left the elevator, we just looked at each other and said something along the lines, “Did that actually happen?”

In honor of Jessica Walter’s most infamous character, we’ll use a few of her finest quotes as Mother Bluth to preview Friday's game between Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames.

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Winnipeg Jets

“I mean it’s one banana, what could it cost? Ten dollars?”

Pricing the Jets is a near impossible task, and one that a clueless Lucille would have as much of a chance as anyone else, to determine what an appropriate moneyline is for Winnipeg. Through the last two seasons, the Jets have gotten by despite regularly giving up more even-strength High-Danger Chances (HDC) than they create. That's a bad recipe for success. 

The Jets recent trip to Vancouver is a perfect microcosm for how they’ve managed to compete this season in rising up the standings of the North Division. The Jets were attributed with 1.9 expected goals (xG) at even-strength in the first game, to the Canucks’ 1.94. An evenly played game wasn’t indicated on the scoreboard, as the Jets won 4-0.

Two nights later, the Jets went to the next level. The Canucks’ had a season-high 4.0 xG at even-strength. The second most of any team in the North Division this season. The Jets had less than half of that amount and won the game easily, 5-1.

The Jets' goaltenders have been there to save the day consistently accumulating 9.32 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). Offensively, the Jets snipers have been going above and beyond as well, scoring at an unusually high rate. On Wednesday night, the Jets scored twice on eight HDC at even-strength. Double what you’d expect based on a league-average 15% rate. On top of that, the Jets converted two of just three power play opportunities.

These sorts of scoring rates just aren’t sustainable, but when it comes to the Jets, they just manage to do it. So, what can their price be given what we know?

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.

Calgary Flames

“Get rid of the Seaward.”

“I’ll leave when I’m good ready.

The Flames team social media hashtag — #CofRed, is a nod to their still absent fan base. While it’s a far more G-rated ‘C’/SEA pun, the team brass decided to get rid of a key character when they fired their head coach, Geoff Ward, 10 games ago. Since then the Flames are just 4-5-1, even with a 3-game win streak boost when new coach Darryl Sutter joined the team behind the bench.

While the record doesn’t look good, and panic is very much a possibility as we reach the season’s final stretch, there has been some improvement as the Flames start to look like the team their new coach wants them to be. While their even-strength HDC totals have dropped from an average of 8.16 to 7.1 per game, their xG 5-on-5 hasn’t changed, holding steady at 1.73. Sutter’s defensive mentality is affecting change.

The Flames were giving up 1.65 even-strength expected goals against (xGA) and allowing 8.1 HDC at even-strength before the coaching change. Since then, the Flames are allowing 1.50 xGA and just 6.4 HDC per game.

So why the poor results? The Flames have gone through a period of low-conversion when it comes to their HC during 5-on-5 play. In these last 10 games, they’ve scored on just six of their 71 HDC. That’s a rate of just 8.4%, compared to 12.2% prior to the coaching change.

Did Darryl Sutter make the Flames worse at converting those chances? That’s not really something that can be attributed to coaching. Simply put, if we can expect the Flames to progress towards their previous average of 12.2% (which was still below league-average) then they’ll score approximately twice as many goals in their next 71 HDC at even-strength. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.”

Will the Flames return to the mean start on Friday, March 26? That’s not a question we can answer, even if hopefully we do understand the math behind it. When it comes to betting this matchup, we have to look at the price.

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on "THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast," makes the true moneyline price WPG +123/CGY -123. With the common opening price of CGY -125/WPG +105, there certainly isn’t any value on the Jets, which has been a common refrain for a team we have struggled to determine a reliable value on for almost two years.

Given that the Flames biggest issue since bringing in Sutter, has been their conversion rate, I think they’re being undervalued at this price.

Pick: Flames (-125 or better)

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