NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs. Flames
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Cale Makar
- The Calgary Flames host the Colorado Avalanche in NHL action on Wednesday night.
- Colorado has started to turn things around after an uneven stretch, but is still a slight underdog in this one.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including how to bet it.
Avalanche vs. Flames Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Flames are opening a four-game homestand while clinging to the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, with 51 points in 45 games. Their opponents are starting a three-in-four western road swing sitting four points back, but with three games in hand. And after a dark stretch that saw them go 1-6-1 on either side of the holidays, Colorado is coming off two dominating wins on home ice, against Ottawa and Detroit.
Here’s the latest on both teams, and your best bet for the game.
It was all but inevitable that Colorado was going to face some challenges this season. The team went through a long and grueling run to their championship win, then lost key contributors like Nazem Kadri, Darcy Kuemper and Andre Burakovsky to free agency during the offseason.
This year, the Avs’ depth has been further compromised by a long list of injuries. Thirty-eight different players have already appeared in at least one game for Colorado this season — and that does not include captain Gabriel Landeskog, who remains on the shelf following offseason knee surgery.
But the news is starting to get better. For starters, Pavel Francouz has returned to the net after missing nearly a month of action, and backstopped both big wins over the weekend. At forward, Valeri Nichushkin and Evan Rodrigues are also back, and add much-needed depth.
The blue line is still thin, though. Josh Manson and Bowen Byram were both on the ice on Tuesday, but in non-contact sweaters, which will likely leave them unavailable for this road trip. Expect to see Cale Makar and Devon Toews continue to rack up huge minutes as two of the busiest players in the league.
Statistically, Colorado is in the middle of the pack in 5-on-5 expected goals share at 51.44%. And while the Avs have been light on offense this season, their power play is still a threat — and has gone hot at 3-for-6 in the last two games.
Goaltending is also a strength for Colorado. And now that Alexander Georgiev has had a week to rest since Francouz’s return, the Avs should be solid between the pipes on Wednesday no matter which stopper makes the start.
The Flames are back in the friendly confines of the Saddledome after playing five road games over nine nights. Their record was a decent 2-1-2 but they finished up by barely hanging on for a 6-5 win over Dallas on Saturday, then dropping a 2-1 decision in Nashville on Monday.
It’s been a disappointing year in Calgary, where the Flames have regressed even though Darryl Sutter still has the team playing structurally sound hockey — they rank sixth in expected goals at 5-on-5, at 53.56%.
One of the best parts of their game is their shot generation, where they’re third in the NHL with 35.0 shots on goal per game. Unfortunately, Calgary is also tied for the fourth-lowest team shooting percentage this season, at 8.8%.
Their penalty kill is also quite strong, sitting seventh at 82.4%, and the Flames allow just 27.8 shots per game, tied for second-fewest in the league. But goaltending has not been a strong suit: I don’t think anyone was expecting 2022 Vezina runner-up Jacob Markstrom to spend most of this season with a save percentage below .900.
The Flames are reasonably healthy at the moment. It seems they just need to pull everything together to gel as a team and get on a roll in time for playoffs.
Avalanche vs. Flames Pick
Wednesday’s game will be the second of three meetings between Colorado and Calgary this season. The Flames opened their season with a 5-3 home-ice win over the defending champions back on Oct. 13, but we could see a different outcome this time around.
After a tough month, the Avalanche seem to be riding a wave of positive momentum into this road trip. Meanwhile, the Flames continue to be inconsistent, even within games.
The best bet here is pretty straightforward. Grab the Avs at plus money as they look to use this road trip to push themselves back into a playoff position.
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