NHL Hockey Betting: Calgary Flames at Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Hockey Betting:  Calgary Flames at Pittsburgh Penguins&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The Calgary Flames are doing little more than ‘treading water’ in the Pacific Division at the moment and they’re not in a great situation to get back on the winning track as they conclude a three game East Coast road trip by facing the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flames have been the epitome of ‘mediocre’ this season and have bumbled around the .500 mark all season long. They enter this game at 27-25-3 coming off a loss to the New York Rangers last time out. The Flames are 14-13-0 at home and 13-12-3 on the road. The strange thing about the Flames this year is that they’ve been playing better defensively than they have on offense. The ‘conventional wisdom’ is that Calgary is a team that can score goals but can’t stop anyone from scoring. This year they’re #20 in goals scored per game (2.62) and #16 in goals against per game (2.82). Not sure that they’re not better off being a bottom ten defensive team and a top five goal scoring team. Their power play has been decent (#7 at 21.7%) but the penalty kill is mediocre at best (#20 at 80.1%).

The Penguins aren’t anything special on defense either–in fact they have a worse goals against average than the Flames (#21 at 2.9 goals against per game). The problem for Calgary is that the Penguins’ offense is borderline unstoppable ranked #1 in the NHL averaging a ridiculous 3.6 goals per game. The power play is also very good (#3 at 22.7%). The penalty kill is substandard (#24 at 78.8 goals per game). They’re without Evgeni Malkin at the moment due to a lower body injury. He’s skating again but there’s no timeline for his return. The Penguins have been average at best on the road (11-10-3) but downright dominant at home (22-3-2) where they average 4.1 goals per game.

Chad Johnson gets the start here for Calgary after Brian Elliott started the last four games and 6 of 7. He’ll tentatively face Marc-Andre Fleury who is ‘penciled in’ but not confirmed. Fleury played well in a 4-1 win over St. Louis on Saturday and Matt Murray could use a break after starting the previous eight games and 9 of 11. The Flames actually won both meetings against the defending Stanley Cup champions last year taking a 4-2 victory at Pittsburgh on 3/5/16 and a 5-2 win at home on 11/7/15. Hard to have much confidence in the current incarnation of the Flames and it’s also hard to see them beating the Penguins in a shootout.


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