NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Flames vs. Stars (February 1)
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Calgary Flames standout Noah Hanifin.
- The Dallas Stars host the Calgary Flames in Tuesday's NHL action.
- The Flames are slight -125 favorites entering this affair, which pits franchises in solid form ahead of this Western Conference clash.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the game below and explains why he's backing Calgary.
Flames vs. Stars Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL here.|
With both teams at full health and in strong form, Calgary heads to the American Airlines Center on Tuesday looking to find a tough road win against Dallas, which has proven to be a very formidable opponent on home ice with its 15-5-1 record.
That said, will Calgary be able to overcome what appears to be a significant home-ice advantage in this meeting?
Calgary fell into a notable low point in the season from mid-December onward to mid-January, fueled by a very messy scheduling situation, the dreaded Florida-Carolina road swing and possibly somewhat of a natural drop-off.
I speculated they were due to trend up, as the early season dominance came clearly with truly strong top-to-bottom play, and not simply lucking their way into a winning record.
Since an embarrassing 4-1 home loss to the Senators on January 13th, the results have been impressive, with a 4-2-0 record, a ridiculous 67.67 xGF%, and a +11 goal differential.
Surely those numbers were aided in the ridiculous 62 shot 6-0 beatdown of the Blue Jackets, but a dominant 5-1 win over the Panthers and 7-1 smashing of the Blues were also pretty firm comments towards this team’s top gear.
The top unit of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm continues to be amongst the league’s very best, specifically when looking towards their unbelievable ability to suppress the opposition to next to nothing offensively, while producing a ton at the other end.
That unit certainly does carry much of the load offensively, but behind them lies an excellent top two pairings, and some elite goaltending, and an altogether sharp team game.
Over those last six outings Calgary have held teams to a minuscule 1.69 GA/60 rating, and have faced some formidable clubs during that span.
The defensive play is back to where one might expect after a rough patch around the break/that trip out East, where everybody seems to give up a ton of goals.
I expect this Flames team to claim the second seed out of the Pacific come 82 games, and the indications are there that more positive results will keep coming moving forward.
Jacob Markstrom should draw the start here, coming off a shutout victory Saturday over Vancouver, and has been very strong altogether this season throughout 31 games played, with a +8.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .924 save percentage.
The Stars have continued their Jekyll-and-Hyde play this season, coming home from a 4-0 road trip against some very poor competition before being pummeled, 5-0, by the Capitals, but bouncing back with a massive 6-1 win over the Bruins.
Altogether over the last two two weeks the team has produced a 52.86 xGF%, which is a lot less impressive than it sounds when you consider five of those seven contests came against very poor competition.
To me, this Stars team is a level better than we have seen so far this season, but have not proven to hold enough consistent depth scoring, nor the strong defensive play we have to expect from Bowness’ group, and in turn I do not believe they have proven to deserve being priced this closely with a Flames team whom I believe are truly one of the better outfit’s in the West.
Jacob Oettinger is confirmed to start and has been strong, with a +2.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .913 save % through 17 games played.
Flames vs. Stars Pick:
These teams offer similar offensive punch, both rely heavily upon a ridiculously effective top trio’s to carry much of the weight, however the Flames offer just a little more depth scoring at 5-on-5 and have shown to be a far better defensive squad altogether this season.
Dallas play has surely trended up a little as the season has rolled along, but Calgary have proven to have a more well rounded game, with their dominant goaltending and defense leading them to the league’s second best goals against per game mark, while posting a similar offensive output to the Stars.
Dallas also help cover up for a lack of 5-on-5 scoring with an excellent powerplay at 26.2%, but will see that unit met by the league’s sixth best penalty kill at 83.8%, and if the Flames can keep that unit under control it could go a long way to controlling a limited Stars attack.
We have seen this occur somewhat of late, but I have speculated Dallas’ home and road splits would level out, as in the modern NHL it has simply proven unlikely for massive splits to occur. And when the games really matter and everybody is fully dialed in, teams seem to be able to play at full form on the road, as we have seen in several postseasons, where there has been no edge.
Calgary looks to hold value at -125, which was widely available Tuesday morning, and I would play the franchise down to -130 odds.
Pick: Calgary ML (-125 | play to -130)