The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks will renew their rivalry on Wednesday night as they begin their first-round playoff series. The Flames have owned their division this season, winning 22 of 29 divisional games, but Vancouver has been a thorn in their side. Who’ll cash on the NHL lines in Game 1?
The Calgary Flames Can Win Because…
They’ve been in the playoff mood for the last month. While the Canucks might need a little bit of time to feel their way into the playoffs, the Flames will feel right at home in terms of the pressure and high stakes.
Calgary comes into the playoffs on a roll as they’ve won five of their last seven games. Their offense has been hot in that span as they’ve averaged 3.15 goals per game in that span. That could be a concern for the Canucks when you consider that Ryan Miller has just returned from injury for them (in the team’s last game of the regular season) and he gave up a whopping five goals to the Edmonton Oilers in that one. If he’s rusty, still banged up or in other ways inadequate, the Canucks are going to have some problems with this pesky Flames teams.
The Vancouver Canucks Can Win Because…
They play well in this series. The Canucks have seven of the last eight times they’ve been the host in this series and 11 of the last 14 meetings overall. Although the Flames have played well down the stretch of the season, so have the Canucks. Even without their top goaltender Ryan Miller, the Canucks found a way to go 12-5-1 in their last 18 games and head to the playoffs on a three-game winning streak.
The other reason the Canucks are a good bet in Game 1 is because they have a sizable edge in experience. The Flames are one of the youngest teams in the NBA and they haven’t been here before – at least almost all of them aside from Hiller. The Canucks have far more experience and that should be a big difference come Wednesday night.
This is an intriguing matchup and while the Canucks dominate this series, there is the feeling that the upcoming seven games (or less) could go either way. That being the case, I’m going to stay away from the side posted on the NHL odds – especially since you have to lay -150 with the Canucks.
Instead, I’m going to go with the over as this is simply a bad number. Since the All-Star break, the Canucks are fourth in scoring at 3.08 goals per game and the Flames are seventh at 2.97. And Vancouver has been one of the worst defensive teams in that span, giving up 2.89 goals per game, which is the sixth-worst number.
The Canucks have seen five goals in eight of their last 10 games and for Calgary, 10 of their last 11 have seen at least five goals. Go over with your NHL picks in this one.
NHL Pick: Over 5 at The Greek