Wednesday NHL Playoffs Odds, Pick, Prediction: Oilers vs. Flames Game 1 Betting Preview (May 18)

Wednesday NHL Playoffs Odds, Pick, Prediction: Oilers vs. Flames Game 1 Betting Preview (May 18) article feature image

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez. Pictured: Johnny Gaudreau

  • The Flames are home favorites against the Oilers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
  • Both teams have strong front lines but questions behind them, so where's the value in this matchup?
  • Grant White breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Oilers vs. Flames Game 1 Odds

Oilers Odds+135
Flames Odds-160
Over/Under6.5 (+100 / -120)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

In a playoff matchup 31 years in the making, the Battle of Alberta resumes on Wednesday night when the Calgary Flames host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of this Western Conference Semifinal.

The last time these teams met in the postseason was 1991, a series the Oilers won in seven games as the underdogs. Edmonton fans will be hoping that's a good omen for things to come, starting in the series opener at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Will McDavid Will the Oilers to Another Win?

The Oilers overcame a 3-2 series deficit in their opening-round victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The second-place Oilers thrived with their backs against the wall, dominating the Kings over the last two games of the series. Edmonton will need a similar effort over the full seven games to get past the Flames in Round 2.

The Oilers showed that sometimes the best defense is a good offense, forcing the Kings to chase them through Games 6 and 7. The Oilers out-chanced the Kings 30-19 in High-Danger Chances and 69-52 in Scoring Chances, tilting the ice in their favor. Assertive offense shifted the Expected Goals-For percentage in the Oilers' direction, compiling a 67.2% rating at five-on-five across those two outings.

A significant portion of the Oilers' success is attributed to Connor McDavid, who refused to let his ship go down in the first round again. The four-time Art Ross Trophy winner was on the ice for 20 of the Oilers' 27 goals, recording points on 14 of those tallies.

What's most impressive about McDavid's play is his ability to elevate those around him. The reigning MVP recorded assists on goals from eight different goal scorers in the first round, illustrating just how valuable he is to the Oilers.

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Flames Have Been Top-Heavy in the Playoffs 

The Flames have a line of their own that they rely on for scoring. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm combined for 301 points this season, good for 1.22 points per game. Their effectiveness took a hit in their conference quarterfinal, with the Stars neutralizing Gaudreau and company for most of the seven games.

Therein lies the key to defeating the Flames, as their scoring depth takes a big hit outside their top line. In wins, the top line contributed 14 points, including five combined points in Game 7; however, the trio combined for just five points in the three losses. The Flames could be in big trouble if Edmonton can find a way to contain Gaudreau, Lindholm, and Tkachuk.

Those scoring concerns are reflected across the Flames' advanced metrics. Calgary closed out the first round with a 4.7% shooting percentage at five-on-five, increasing marginally to 5.2% across all strengths. Not only was that worst among all teams to advance to the second round, but that was the worst of any playoff team. Look for the Flames to lean into their defense rather than trying to trade blows with the offensively superior Oilers.

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Oilers vs. Flames Pick

The Flames' defensive system is among the best in the NHL, which is a prerequisite for containing McDavid and the Oilers. However, they also don't have the firepower to score at will against a responsible Oilers team.

Neither team will give up an inch in the series-opener, lending itself to a low-scoring game. Plus-money on a total of six or higher isn't worth passing up.

Pick: Under 6 +100

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