Big board of NHL betting action for Saturday and in this writeup we’ll take a look at one of two afternoon games as the Calgary Flames finish up an East Coast road swing against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flames are currently in a three way tie atop the Western Conference. Calgary has 75 points as do the Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks. The Nashville Predators are just two points away from joining this trio.
That makes this the classic good news/bad news scenario for Calgary. Obviously the Flames have to be thrilled where they are after they finished in 11th place and out of the playoff hunt last season. On the other hand, they know they need to pick up the pace quickly and significantly if they want to stay in this mix atop the Conference. They’re 4-3-3 in their last 10 games but enter tonight’s matchup having lost three straight dropping road games at Vancouver, Tampa Bay and Florida. All of a sudden the Flames have had difficulty winning away from home and that’s a necessity for any team with postseason ambitions.
Despite the recent downturn, Calgary is playing well. The losses at Vancouver and Florida were in a shootout so they took points in those games and at this stage of the season every bit helps. For the year, they’re 17-11-2 away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. Mike Smith will get the start in net for Calgary–this is only the second time he’s started consecutive games since January 2 and 3. David Rittich gave up six goals in 27 shots against Tampa Bay last Tuesday so maybe they’re giving him some extra time to recover. There’s no indication that he’s injured or ‘in the doghouse’ and first year coach Bill Peters doesn’t really follow a ‘system’ for who starts when.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are not having a great season at all by their standards. They’re tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 7th in the Eastern Conference and hold down the final playoff spot. The grasp on the postseason is a tenuous one–the Penguins and Blue Jackets are just 1 point ahead of the surging Carolina Hurricanes and four points up on the Buffalo Sabres. Pittsburgh has gone 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and although they’re 16-10-2 on home ice that translates to a -7.5 unit loss. The Penguins are the quintessential public team and as such are invariably overvalued in most situations. The Penguins had lost 8 of 12 heading into this week but have rebounded somewhat with a win at Philadelphia and home against Edmonton. Matt Murray played well in both games and he’s been confirmed as tonight’s starter in net. The Pens’ lineup should get a boost with the return of defenseman Justin Schultz who has been sidelined since early this season with a broken leg.
Just h ave a hard time laying minus money to back the Penguins at this time. Given the overall quality of how each team has played this year and their recent form the Calgary Flames look like the better value.