NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Flames vs. Hurricanes Pick (Jan. 7)
Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sebastian Aho.
- The Hurricanes host the Flames on Friday night in Raleigh.
- The Canes have won eight of their last nine, but are they overvalued as home favorites?
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and shares her best bet below.
Flames vs. Hurricanes Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
It's a battle of two of the NHL's top defensive squads at PNC Arena on Friday, when the Carolina Hurricanes entertain the Calgary Flames in one of just two games on the NHL schedule.
While the Flames shut the door on their opposition on road trips earlier in the season, they've had a little trouble regaining that elite form since starting back up after the holiday break. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were firing on all cylinders when they returned — but will be facing Calgary after another six-day pause.
Here's why the home team deserves your betting attention in this matchup.
Flames Looking to Find Momentum on the Road
After a massive Covid-19 outbreak took the Flames off the schedule for nearly three weeks in December, they've gotten back to work with a five-game road trip, which wraps on Friday in Raleigh.
Multi-goal wins in Seattle and Chicago were a good start, but the gauntlet of the old Southeast Division is now a murderer's row. After losing 6-2 in Florida on Tuesday, they brought a better defensive effort on Thursday but still fell 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
They'll now be on a back-to-back against Carolina. But the one bit of good news is that backup Dan Vladar was assigned the start against the Lightning, so Calgary should have No. 1 man Jacob Markstrom in net against the Hurricanes. He has cooled off a bit after his early-season heroics, but he has still saved 8.2 Goals Above Expected so far this year, a very impressive number.
Now that they're through their Covid challenges, the Flames are relatively healthy. And while their overall road record is an impressive 13-5-2 , Calgary has now lost four of its last six away from the Saddledome, including the last two games.
Shorthanded Hurricanes in Rhythm
On Dec. 9, Sebastian Aho scored the game winner when the Hurricanes beat the Flames 2-1 in overtime at the Saddledome — just a few days before Covid-19 also started to infiltrate the Hurricanes.
To their credit, even though Carolina has been undermanned, the team has gone 8-1-0 in its last nine games — and covered the puck line all seven of its regulation wins. The only exceptions were the overtime win in Calgary and the 2-1 loss to Vancouver on a back-to-back at the end of the Western road trip.
With a league-best .758 Points Percentage and top Goal Differential of plus-40, there's every reason to believe that the Hurricanes are for real this year.
They're good at scoring, outstanding at defending, and solid on special teams — with their tremendous penalty killing overshadowing their very good power play. They're also ranking near the top of all the key 5-on-5 possession categories. And with Brendan Smith alone on the Covid protocol list as of Thursday, they're basically healthy.
One question remains: who starts in net for Carolina? They're kicking off a back-to-back set against Calgary on Friday before hosting Florida on Saturday. So they'll likely split the goaltending duties — and might save starter Freddie Andersen for Saturday's divisional game.
Backup Antti Raanta has been decent overall, but he looked shaky in his last outing against Columbus when he was pulled after one period, after giving up three goals on nine shots.
Flames vs. Hurricanes Pick
Closing out a road trip, on a back-to-back, this game sets up as a scheduled loss for the Flames. But will the Hurricanes be rested or rusty?
They haven't played since New Year's Day, after their originally scheduled matchup against Toronto last Monday was postponed. And they're starting a back-to-back, with a huge home game against the Panthers on Saturday. Could they look past the Flames and take them for granted?
It's unlikely. The Hurricanes have faced their fair share of challenges this season, but there haven't been many moments when their preparation or mental toughness could have been called into question.
The Flames aren't looking as unbeatable as they did at the beginning of the season. But Carolina continues to find ways to win — usually without breaking much of a sweat.
If you're feeling bold, consider the puck line. A win in regulation will boost your odds over a rather slim moneyline and still offer a good chance of victory.
The under could also be an option. Carolina and Calgary rank first and second in Goals Against so far this season, and their December matchup yielded only three goals. But the Flames' recent adventures in the Sunshine State — and the Canes' 21 goals scored in their past four games — make me wary.
Pick: Hurricanes in Regulation (-105, DraftKings)