NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Flames vs. Kraken (Dec. 30)
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Flames vs. Kraken Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After nearly three weeks off, the Calgary Flames will finally have the opportunity to snap a four-game losing skid against the short-handed Seattle Kraken, who will be playing for the second night in a row.
Rust could be a factor for the Flames, but will that stop them from claiming a much needed win from a lottery-bound team?
Can Calgary Snap Back into Form?
All things considered, Calgary’s treacherous Covid situation actually worked out quite favorably compared to many other teams. The majority of the players were reportedly asymptomatic and the team never had to take the ice with a depleted lineup.
Darryl Sutter’s team was able to hold two full practices for this matchup and you’d have to imagine that the team was put through the paces to get ready for a return to action.
The Flames have put together a well-balanced team that generates chances effectively in the offensive zone and suppresses them well in front of one of the NHL’s best goaltending tandems this season. The Flames boast the league’s third-best goal differential at +25 and the fifth-best expected goals rate at 55%. The team’s form had fallen off before the pause, but I don’t think the strong start was a fluke and think Calgary is destined to finish second in the Pacific Division.
The club’s offensive depth may keep it from finishing at the top of the table, but nothing suggests that the Flames won’t be able to get the necessary results through their strong work-rate and attention to detail, which has led to a lot of success limiting controlled zone entries and un-pressured shots.
Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar have been tremendous for the Flames in goal, and we should see Markstrom draw the start here. Markstrom owns a +10.8 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) with a .933 save percentage (SV%) throughout 21 games played this season.
Seattle Is Trending Down
Seattle have undoubtedly been one of the league’s unluckiest squads, and at times poor starting goaltending has been the only thing preventing the group from getting better results.
That said, it’s starting to look like this team won’t get better goaltending this season and that the team’s 20.58 goals allowed above expected may not regress to close to zero.
What’s worse is that Seattle has struggled to drive play at 5-on-5 of late. The Kraken were a decent expected goals team through the first portion of the season but they’ve skated to a 43% expected goals rate over their last 15 games, suggesting this team may continue to nosedive.
To make matters worse, Seattle will likely be without key players like Vince Dunn, Ryan Donato, Brandon Tanev and Adam Larsson for Thursday’s contest.
Chris Driedger will likely draw the start, and owns a -2.1 GSAx rating and an .896 SV% throughout 8 games played this season.
Kraken vs. Flames Pick
We certainly saw some sloppy play in the NHL’s return on Tuesday night and I think that will continue for the next few days as teams get back into the swing following lengthy breaks.
However outside of the “rust angle,” I have a hard time seeing how the Flames won’t close as considerable favorites here. FanDuel opened this market with Calgary at -126, which I think is well short of where this line should sit.
Calgary is likely to be at, or near, full strength for Thursday night, while Seattle is missing several notable contributors. Calgary’s 19-day layoff is certainly frightening, but I also imagine Darryl Sutter’s club will take the ice with a ton of energy, looking to restart their season and snap a four-game losing skid against some soft competition.
Even in games where Seattle controlled more of the play, the Kraken have rarely found ways to win. And it’s hard to imagine Seattle dictating the tempo on Thursday against a team that has excelled at pushing the puck in the right direction all season.
Calgary also has a decided edge in goal, so long as Markstrom gets the nod.
I believe this number will creep up to -150 by the time the puck drops at Climate Pledge Arena and I like Calgary at anything better than -145.
Pick: Calgary Flames -145 or better
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