The Calgary Flames are six points up on the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. On Monday, the two sides will get together in a showdown of team’s fighting for their postseason lives. The Flames are favored on the NHL betting lines here.
The Colorado Avalanche Can Win Because…
The Flames haven’t been so hot since they lost defensive All-Star Mark Giordano for the season. In real terms, the Flames have picked up at least a point in eight of their last 11 games. However, as a bettor, that means almost nothing to you as they are just 6-5 in that same span. And looking on a smaller scale, the Flames have actually dropped three of four while scoring just eight goals in the process
Meanwhile, Colorado is playing some of their best hockey of the season right now. They’ve won 11 of their last 16 games and six of their last eight. The difference has been the play of goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who is 6-0-1 with a 1.43 GAA in his last seven outings. March has been his best month of the season by far as he’s posted a .956 save percentage and 1.43 GAA this month. To put that in perspective, he had a 2.86 GAA and .903 save percentage in February.
The Avs are a fairly sizable dog on the NHL betting odds here but they deserve some more credit. They are more than capable of winning this game outright.
The Calgary Flames Can Win Because…
Their offense is on absolute fire right now. Calgary’s defense and goaltending have been in and out this season, but their offense has done a good job. When you look up at the March standings, no team has scored more goals this month than the Flames 35. That means they’ve averaged 3.50 goals per outing, which quite impressive.
Although Varlamov is playing well this month too, the issue is that he doesn’t have a strong track record against Calgary. He’s lost two straight outings against them while giving up a total of eight goals. For his career, Varlamov has a 2.72 GAA and a .897 GAA versus the Flames. That’s subpar. If he plays like that on Monday, we’re likely to see a high-scoring affair here and that benefits the Avs.
Calgary has more to playoff for in this spot as they’re fighting for their playoff lives. They’re just two points up on the Los Angeles Kings and need every point they can get. This is must-win territory for them and having the home audience behind them will help. The Avs are 14-21 on the road this season and are tough rely upon when they’re away from home.
It’s hard not to like the Avalanche in this spot. This is a team that’s playing better than Calgary right now and comes in hotter. The Flames might be heading for the playoffs but they’ve dropped three of four and that red-hot offense that had carried them in the early part of March has tapered off. Combined with the fact that Varlamov is in the midst of his best stretch of the season, it makes sense to take a shot with the Avs as your NHL pick.
NHL Pick: Avalanche +122 at Pinnacle