NHL Hockey Betting: Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Hockey Betting:  Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The Calgary Flames were the surprise team of the 2014-2015 hockey season but so far this year they’ve been a profound disappointment. They’ll take a 5-10-1 record into the ‘Cigar City’ tonight for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning have been a disappointment in their own right–they were in the Stanley Cup Finals last season but have looked not good at all so far this year. They’re 7-8-2 on the season but more alarmingly enter this contest on a 3-6-1 run. They’re coming off of back to back losses at Minnesota and at home against the Buffalo Sabres. They’re not out of it by a long shot due to the parity in the Eastern Conference. They’re just one point out of the final wildcard spot in the East despite their poor play.

Calgary’s problems are obvious–they can’t keep their opponents from scoring goals. The Flames are currently dead last in goals against per game allowing 3.88 per game. They’re a middle of the pack team in shots allowed and that strongly suggests that the problem is with their goaltending. Kari Ramo gets the start tonight and he’s not been particularly effective but with Jonas Hiller sidelined with a lower body injury it’s just him and youngster Joni Ortiro. Calgary has shown little to no improvement in this area over the course of the season. They need to get even better play from their defense to make life easier on their goalies but the goalies need to start making saves.

Tampa Bay has the opposite problem–they’re not scoring goals which is somewhat surprising given their status as one of the more potent offenses in the NHL last year. The Lightning are actually a top ten defensive team at this point in the season (#9 in goals against) but they’re #24 in goals scored with 2.29 per contest. Their recent form is even more problematic–they’re scored 14 goals in their past 9 games for a 1.55 average during that stretch.

Tampa is likely the better team but they’re sure not playing like it. For that reason, this game is much closer to a coin flip than the moneyline price suggests. We’ll take the plus money with the Flames mindful of the Lightning’s 1-6 record against the Western Conference this season.


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