NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Prediction: Flames vs. Jets (January 3)

NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Prediction: Flames vs. Jets (January 3) article feature image

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter

  • Calgary is a road favorite as it heads to Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
  • The Jets have been strong at home this season, but their roster is depleted for tonight's game.
  • Below, Nicholas Martin shares his recommended betting angles for the Flames vs. Jets matchup.

Flames vs. Jets Odds

Flames Odds-140
Jets Odds+120
Over/Under6 (+100 / -121)
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Calgary enters this matchup on an 8-3-4 tear that has propelled it all the way to third place in the Pacific Division after a slow start to the campaign.

The Flames' dominant run will mean they're priced as a road favorite against the Winnipeg Jets, who have played to a stellar 13-6-0 record at home this season yet enter this matchup with a lengthy IR.

Are the Flames worthy of such a price playing on the road in a very tough building?

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Expect Calgary Flames to Find Stride

Calgary became a very trendy pick to win the Cup this offseason after replacing the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk with Nazem Kadri, Jonathon Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar.

The Flames' play early this season was not entirely inspiring, and at times it seemed likely that Calgary wouldn't even make it back to the playoffs as the new-look roster struggled through some notable growing pains.

However, the Flames have had solid underlying numbers this season, and a large portion of the early struggles could be attributed to some poor play from No. 1 goaltender Jacob Markstrom. They also suffered through the NHL's toughest schedule during the first month of the season.

Over the past month, Calgary has played to a fifth-best 55.53% expected goals for rating and has rightfully earned an 8-3-4 record over that span.

Darryl Sutter's group is starting to look similar to what we saw a season ago with a heavy forecheck and significant back pressure on all plays coming through the neutral zone, with an elite defensive core that makes controlled zone entries quite difficult.

All three of Calgary's regular defensive pairings are inside of the league's top 60 defensive lines by xGF% among units that have skated more than 75 minutes together at even strength.

That is a gigantic advantage over a number of other Western Conference sides and is sustainable moving forward considering the true talent of the players on hand. It's an especially important edge as the Flames are not yielding the same kind of game-breaking talents as rivals such as the Oilers and are fighting to overcome that with steady team play on all units.

Jonathan Huberdeau may not be anywhere near the kind of MVP-caliber player many expected him to be. Garnering a wealth of secondary points on the best offense in salary cap era history last season with the Panthers likely boosted his value significantly, but he is starting to play at a higher level.

Huberdeau has trended into far better form recently and has produced 16 points over his last 18 matchups entering this game.

Jacob Markstrom's turnaround in form has been the greatest spark for Calgary's recent upswing, and his improved form does seem sustainable considering he was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season.

Markstrom owns a +4.1 goals saved above expected rating and .895 save % throughout 26 games played this season, and he is likely to start in this matchup.

Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg has started to slow down after a really tremendous start to the season, and the reason is obvious with several meaningful bodies (Nate Schmidt, Blake Wheeler, Mason Appleton and Cole Perfetti) out of the lineup among others.

The Jets have lost six of their last 11 contests inside of regulation, and they have played to an expected goals rating of 48.94% during that span.

Throughout the last several years, Winnipeg had often displayed some shaky defensive play as a team, which new head coach Rick Bowness had done an excellent job of shoring up in the early going.

With so many bodies out of the lineup, however, Winnipeg is spending less time playing with the puck and has begun to allow more chances against while generating fewer at the other end of the rink.

With Wheeler, Appleton and Perfetti all sidelined from the top-six, Winnipeg auditioned waiver pickup Karson Kuhlman, Adam Lowry and Kristian Reichel in top-six roles yesterday, which is a clear comment about the kind of quality out of this once dominant lineup.

Nate Schmidt is considered a game-time decision for tonight's contest, and his return would be meaningful for a Jets team that has respectably taken a slight step backward.

It's worth noting that the most important member of the Jets IR would no doubt be Nikolaj Ehlers, but Ehlers has missed essentially the entire season, and Winnipeg fought through that absence effectively until the injuries became too overpowering.

Connor Hellebuyck will likely start in goal for the Jets, and he has been arguably the league's best goaltender to this point with a +18.5 GSAx and .928 save % throughout 28 games played.

Flames vs. Jets Pick

Calgary has begun to display more of the kind of dominant five-on-five play we saw throughout most of last season. Even despite the fact that the Flames have started to win games at a very high clip, they still seem to have room for growth offensively based on the number of quality looks being generated.

With so many key bodies, Winnipeg has started to allow more chances than it would like, and with two mainstays from the second line sidelined upfront, the Jets offensive punch has taken a hit.

In all likelihood, Calgary is going to carry significantly more of the play in this matchup, and it will likely take an otherworldly performance from Hellebuyck for the Jets to take two points here.

And that is certainly a possibility, but not something likely to happen often enough to scare me off of the Flames at -140. I would back Calgary to win this at -150, and if you're looking to play for a higher price, betting the Flames to win in regulation at +135 would hold a similar eventual value.

Pick: Calgary Flames -140 (Play to -150)

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