NHL Odds & Pick for Senators vs. Flames: Ottawa Provides Solid Live Opportunity (Thursday, March 4)
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Ottawa head coach D.J. Smithof yells instructions from the bench.
- The Senators and Flames have become quite familiar with each other, as this will be their fourth meeting recently.
- Calgary is the more rested team as Ottawa travels there following a game in Montreal on Tuesday.
- Who has the edge? Matt Russell breaks it down below.
Senators vs. Flames Odds
|Time | TV||Thursday, 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings|
The Ottawa Senators have had a pair of the best scheduling spots in the NHL this season, as twice they’ve had home games where their opponent was flying in immediately after playing the night before.
On Thursday, they’ll get a taste of their own medicine, so to speak, as they will head to Calgary after a loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday to face a Flames team that has been sitting at home for two days after these two teams last met on Monday.
The less-rested team is the underdog in Thursday’s matchup, so is there value in the Senators? Let’s take a look.
The Senators’ trip to Montreal felt like a lamb-to-slaughter situation as they went in there following three straight at home against Calgary, while the Habs were coming off five straight losses.
While the Senators didn’t win, they acquitted themselves nicely, staying in a game by only allowing the Habs two high-danger chances at even-strength and 1.0 expected goals (XG) 5-on-5. The big question as they arrive in Calgary for another matchup with a presumably irritated Flames team is whether they keep up that defensive energy, and support their starting goaltender, Matt Murray, who has been consistently inconsistent.
From an offensive standpoint, the Senators had no problem scoring on Calgary during the set at home, with 14 goals over the three games, taking advantage of the absence of Jacob Markstrom for Calgary.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Markstrom practiced on Wednesday, which may mean he’s trending toward making his return, and it won’t be a moment too soon. Stabilizing your goaltending situation with a big-money free agent sounds like a good idea until he goes down with an injury. That’s a pretty big piece of the pie missing from the plate.
Since Markstrom left a 7-1 loss to Edmonton, the Flames have managed two wins in their five games without him, but even before his departure the team was showing concerning signs. Close losses had piled up in the early stages of the season despite a rating that was, until recently, still considered significantly above average.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In their last 11 games, the Flames have averaged 1.66 xGF and 1.88 xGA. Coincidentally, those numbers are almost identical to the Sens’ during their 6-4 stretch in their last 10 games. There just isn’t much to choose from between the two teams.
My model has this line at OTT +120/CGY -140, but since we know the Senators are still a bargain, we know that won’t be the market price. The early projections have the Senators at +160, which is good enough for more than a 5% edge. There’s no reason to be shy here, but I will suggest a more advanced strategy.
When the Senators are off, you know it pretty quickly, specifically when it comes to Murray. Given the scheduling spot, there’s a good chance that an early goal or two could derail Ottawa, but if they can survive the first 10 minutes at 0-0, live-betting the Sens is the play here, as you won’t lose much in value and you’ll get a free look to see if the Murray and the Sens are victims of a blip on the schedule.
Pick: Senators live in-game, if scoreless after 10 minutes (+150 or better)