NHL Hockey Betting: Calgary Flames at Philadelphia Flyers

NHL Hockey Betting:  Calgary Flames at Philadelphia Flyers&h=235&w=320&zc=1

A pair of Canadian teams in action on Sunday night and we’ll look at the bottom game on the board as the Calgary Flames head East to take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Over the past few seasons, the Flames have been one of the tougher teams in the NHL to figure out. This season looks to be no different. Calgary got off to another slow start this year and once again suffered a big injury blow–this time to offensive sparkplug Johnny Gaudreau who’ll be out until just after the new year following finger surgery. The absence of ‘Johnny Hockey’ sure doesn’t help but much of the Flames’ struggles early on were what you’d expect from this team–shoddy defense and substandard goaltending. The goaltending was expected to improve dramatically this season with the addition of former St. Louis Blues’ netminder Brian Elliott. Instead, Elliott struggled and has been outplayed so far by backup Chad Johnson.

In fact, Johnson deserves much of the credit for the Flames’ recent renaissance. Calgary has won 5 of 7 with Johnson starting six of those games and getting all five victories. It’s way too soon to throw Elliott under the bus and if his stint with the Blues’ demonstrated anything it’s his streakiness. It’s easy to forget this now but for a couple of months late in the 2015-2016 regular season it became downright impossible to score on Elliott. For the time being, however, Elliott is a backup making $2.5 million a year. Johnson will get the start tonight facing Flyers’ prospect Anthony Stolarz making his first start of the season. Stolarz turned in some decent work last year and it’s long overdue to give him a shot in net with starter Steve Mason struggling and Michal Neuvirth sidelined due to injury. Flyers have won only 3 of their last 10 games so there’s not any downside to playing Stolarz–he could give them a boost but if not it’s just another loss.

The Flames aren’t scoring goals and that’s a ticket for disaster. Even during their recent 5 wins in 7 games run they’ve averaged just 1.7 goals per game. No matter how well your goalie is playing that meager offensive output is going to come back to haunt them. Then again, the Flyers’ offensive output has dried up lately as well. Flames have won 3 of the last 4 head to head and in this type of matchup we like to take the Western Conference team–particularly when they’ve got the netminder in better form.


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