Wednesday NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction for Flames vs. Blue Jackets (Jan. 26)
Derek Leung/Getty Images. Pictured: Oliver Kylington
- The Calgary Flames are big road favorites over the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
- Despite the wide odds, Nick Martin thinks the Flames have betting value in Columbus:
Flames vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||+160|
|Over/Under||6 (+100o / -120u)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Calgary Flames come to Columbus as big favorites looking to keep up the momentum after a 7-1 pounding of the Blues.
The Blue Jackets have fallen off the pace after a modestly successful start to the season and will be looking to avoid their 10th loss in 14 games.
Should bettors feel comfortable laying the wood with the Flames on Wednesday night?
The Flames Have Found Their Form Again
Calgary has responded well after a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 13. The Flames have played three strong games since then, outscoring opponents 15-7 and notching two wins and a tough-luck loss against the Panthers, Blues and Oilers, respectively.
The Flames started the season in terrific form but then their game fell apart during December and January, sparking conversations about whether or not the team should be counted as a contender. In my opinion, I think this team will play closer to the one we saw early in the campaign, rather than the one that struggled through the holiday season.
Calgary’s 56.5% expected goals rate in January is the fourth-best mark in the NHL and the fact that they’ve accomplished those numbers against a tough schedule tells us a lot about this squad.
This isn’t to say we should count the Flames among the NHL’s elites, but rather a tier below as Calgary ticks plenty of boxes with a dominant top line, a strong defense and a great goaltender. The Flames also rank in the top-third in the NHL in both power play and penalty kill percentage.
Calgary is playing the first game of a back-to-back, so it would not be surprising to see No. 2 goalie Dan Vladar get the start here. Vladar has struggled to a -1.0 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) and a .909 save percentage in nine games this season.
That said, Vladar’s statistical portfolio has been cratered thanks to a pair of awful team outings against Carolina and Tampa, and I would argue that Vladar has been better than those stats suggest.
Columbus Continues to Slide
After starting the season well, the Blue Jackets have turned into a mess. Columbus has won three of its last 10 games with a -15 goal differential and a 41.9% expected goal rate in that span.
This was always supposed to be a rebuilding year in Columbus and a couple of their young players are trending in the right direction, but it’s hard to imagine this team trending up with a blueline that ranks inside the bottom-five in expected goals against and high-danger chances allowed at 5-on-5.
This game sets up as another tough night for goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, who always has his hands full behind a defense that has allowed 3.22 expected goals per 60 minutes in January.
Merzlikins has been strong this season, posting a .912 save percentage with a +3.8 GSAx in 25 games this season.
Adam Boqvist could return to help boost Columbus’ defense, but it’s still hard to see this team solving its defensive woes against a terrific play-driving team like Calgary.
Flames vs. Blue Jackets Pick
The opening line for this game had the Flames at -170, so there’s already been money on the Flames and it’s hard to argue against that movement considering how poor Columbus has played of late.
I believe that the Flames are trending below where they should be results-wise due to a combination of schedule lapses, toughness of competition and some unfavorable puck-luck, and I’m not going to change my tune for this contest.
I feel that Calgary wins this game often enough in regulation to have a play on the three-way line (Flames to win in regulation).
Pick: Calgary Flames win in regulation (-132 or better)
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