NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Flames vs. Sharks (April 7)
Via Gerry Thomas/Getty Images. Pictured: #73 Tyler Toffoli and #8 Christopher Tanev of the Calgary Flames.
- The Sharks are heavy home underdogs against the Flames on Thursday night.
- The Sharks have been playing low-event hockey lately, but does this yield enough value on them to win outright?
- NHL betting analyst Nick Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Flames vs. Sharks Odds
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After playing host to the Oilers for one of the lower-event contests in the entire season on Tuesday, the Sharks will get set to host the host the powerhouse Flames and could likely employ some similar tactics here.
Will that result in value on the total?
Flames’ Stout Defense Gives Them a Good Chance
The Flames have shown closer to the form we have come to expect to start their road trip by grinding through a 3-2 game in Los Angeles before playing a hard-fought affair last night in Anaheim.
Hard-nosed coach Darryl Sutter emphasizes that to win in the playoffs, teams need to defend effectively and generate chances from the defensive zone out.
The Sharks will look to play a tighter contest here, but Sutter’s Flames are very prepared to play this style. The Flames are one of the league’s best defensive clubs this year as they have the third-lowest Expected Goals Against per 60 rate this season and second-lowest Actual Goals Against rating at 2.49.
Backup netminder Dan Vladar will almost certainly start with the Flames playing on a back-to-back. Vladar has been sharper than his overall numbers indicate, and in what sometimes happen to backups, he has suffered from a few more of the team’s lesser defensive nights.
Vladar holds a -5.3 GSAx rating with a .904 Save Percentage in 16 games played.
Sharks Slowing Games Down
Expect Sharks coach Bob Boughner to play a similar strategy in this matchup as he did on Tuesday when he employed a neutral zone trap to limit the high-powered Oilers offense. This helped prevent his lesser offense from getting into a track meet.
The Sharks have played some very low-event hockey of late to see a game opening with a high total of 6.5 here. Game totals have pushed well past their expected goals the last two weeks, but I do not expect that to continue on Thursday.
The Sharks hold the league’s second-lowest Expected Goals per 60 rate at 2.49 over the last five contests and have allowed the 14th-fewest Expected Goals Against per 60 rate (3.04) over that span.
In goal, James Reimer has been very solid this season for the Sharks. He has played to a +4.0 Goals Saved Above Expected rating with a .915 Save Percentage in 42 games.
It’s possible he could sit in favor of Kaapo Kahkonen here, which would not be very significant. Kahkonen holds a -1.4 GSAx rating with a .906 Save Percentage in 28 games this season.
Flames vs. Sharks Pick
If the Sharks are going to sit back and play a neutral zone trap the way they did when hosting the Oilers Tuesday, there is simply no way we should look past the under at 6.5 here.
Either way, it’s could quite likely there isn’t much offense generated in this atchup. The Flames will be entering in the second leg of a less than crucial back-to-back, and I don’t think they will generate a ton of looks against the Sharks.
Reimer has been sharp all season in goal for the Sharks, so the Flames may be held to a surprisingly low total.
However, the Flames do boast some of the best defensive play in the entire league, and Vladar is a very capable backup.
This total opened at 6.5 because of the Sharks’ over inflated recent score-lines, but down the stretch, I’m confident we get to a point where the Sharks’ totals will open at 6 and not 6.5.
While you shouldn’t get too aggressive and get away from your standard sizing, there is a lot of value backing the Under 6.5 at -115. I would recommend playing the under down to 6 at even money or Under. 6.5 to -150.
Pick: Under 6.5 -115 (Play to -150)
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