NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Flames vs. Blackhawks (Dec. 13)
Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Oliver Kylington.
Editor’s Note: Monday night’s game between the Flames and Blackhawks has been postponed.
Flames vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Chicago enters having suffered a devastating loss Saturday in Toronto, after fighting back from a 4-1 deficit only to lose in the final minute to the Leafs.
The Flames have surprised many in achieving some excellent results to start the season, but they have hit a bit of a snag by falling in four consecutive contests. Can we expect Calgary to continue its slide in Chicago?
Don’t Be Alarmed By Flames Slump
An 0-3-1 stretch may seem like some natural regression coming for a club that has vastly overachieved preseason expectations, but I actually do not feel this should draw too much concern yet.
The Flames have still controlled play relatively well with an xGF% of 50.15 over the four-game slump, especially considering the level of competition Calgary has faced. The losses have come against Vegas, who have found a more dominant form of late, a very tough 2-1 overtime defeat to one of league’s absolute best in Carolina, a Boston team looking very strong again, and San Jose who has been in respectable form.
Coach Darryl Sutter has the team playing some sharp hockey, with notably strong defensive layers and excellent puck support in all zones. It has in-turn generated a lot of chances, greatly limiting the opposition.
Calgary owns a 54.99 xGF% altogether this season and an outright dominant +25 goal differential. Outside of two periods of late, its play has still looked fine, with a lack of finishing being the main concern.
Calgary will likely go with Jacob Markstrom here, who has been very strong this season stopping .933 % of shots faced with a +10.8 goals saved above expected rating (GSAx) throughout 21 games played.
Should the Flames choose to go with Dan Vladar, he has offered similar levels of excellence with a .927 save % and +2.6 GSAx rating.
Blackhawks Have Turned Season Around
Chicago has stabilized under coach Derek King, putting together a record of 9-6-0 after a horrendous start to the year which saw the team playing some awful hockey in front of goal.
However, seven of those wins have gone as one-goal victories, including a 5-0 record in 3-on-3 and shootouts, and the team has posted a breakeven xGF% of 50.39.
The results have been much better than the start of the season, but the nature of the victories could be hard to replicate consistently over a larger sample size.
With Jonathon Toews, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome still creating little at 5-on-5, the roster certainly does not hold a wealth of offensive talent, and it’s starting to appear that the pieces simply aren’t there right now to create much better than the 29th-ranked offensive output seen so far.
The good news is Marc-Andre Fleury has greatly stabilized his play under Derek King, surely in large due to the team’s less catastrophic defending, posting a .936 save % throughout 10 games.
Blackhawks vs. Flames Pick
Longterm, I still believe the Flames will be one of the better club’s in the Western Conference this season. Their current four-game losing streak is less concerning than it seems.
I think that there is a good chance we see the Flames playing at their urgent best here. They’ll likely break through with a better result against some considerably easier competition here, with Chicago’s great turnaround appearing somewhat overvalued in some aspects.
Chicago has still generated very little under Derek King at 5-on-5, with an xGF/60 of just 2.10 over his tenure, and I think the Flames will control more of the play here and should be able to keep the Hawks to a modest total.
At -145 I’m certainly willing to lay the juice with the Flames here and would play them down to -150.
Pick: Calgary Flames Moneyline -145