Flames Make First Trip to Vegas & What Happens There Stays There

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 5:36 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 5:36 PM UTC

The Vegas Golden Knights have been phenomenal at home this season. Any reason not to back them on Wednesday against visiting division rival Calgary?

Calgary Flames at Vegas Golden KnightsFree NHL Pick: VegasBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3217462, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,999991,169,118,19], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Per usual, it’s a light schedule around the NHL on Wednesday with just three games, the latest of which (10:30 p.m. ET) is this Pacific Division matchup between Calgary and Vegas from Sin City. No national TV so check it out on NHL Center Ice.

It’s only the second matchup of the season between these clubs and will be Calgary’s first trip to Las Vegas. The clubs will play again March 18 in Vegas and close the regular season against one another April 7. That latter game could be very important for Vegas perhaps clinching the Presidents’ Trophy and Calgary simply making the playoffs – it’s possible this could be a first-round matchup.

On Jan. 30, the Golden Knights made their first trek to Calgary and won 4-2. Erik Haula tied the game at 2-2 at 18:14 on an unassisted goal, Jonathan Marchessault scored just 10 seconds later and David Perron put it away 43 seconds after that with an empty-net goal. Mike Smith finished with 31 stops for Calgary and Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury also had 31 saves. At the time, it was the Knights’ 33rd victory of the season, which tied the 1993-94 Panthers and 1993-94 Mighty Ducks for the most by a first-year expansion team. Vegas has since blown past that.

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/3EZB11hhOdI", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

Home Strip Advantage?

One has to wonder how NHL players will compete in their first-ever trip to Vegas because I assume they will be hitting the Strip the night before. Does that help explain why the Golden Knights are a fantastic 22-5-2 record at T-Mobile Arena?

Vegas had been 14-1-1 overall this season against Pacific Division foes but was upset at home by Anaheim on Monday, 2-0, to have a three-game winning streak snapped. It was only the third time Vegas has been shut out, also at home (3-0) vs. Dallas on Nov. 28 and at Nashville (1-0) on Jan. 16. The Knights were down two forwards against the Ducks in Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (13 points in 56 games), on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, and James Neal (39 points in 58 games), who was a late scratch due to an illness.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

A puck on net is a puck with a chance. #ANAvsVGK pic.twitter.com/Ht434BBor6

— NHL (@NHL) February 20, 2018

With 69 points, the Flames currently are just on the outside of the playoff field. They are terrific away from home at 17-7-5 and just 13-14-4 on home ice. Since the NHL started giving out a “loser point” in 2005, only 10 teams have made the playoffs with fewer wins than combined losses at home. The last club was San Jose in 2015-16 when it was 18-20-3 at home.

Calgary lost its second straight at the Saddledome on Monday, 2-1 in overtime to Boston. It was the fourth straight start in net for David Rittich with the No. 1 Smith sidelined due to a groin injury. Rittich played well enough to win with 30 saves but fell to 6-3-3 on the year with a 2.68 GAA and .915 save percentage. Smith isn’t likely back Wednesday.

Vegas would set another expansion record with a win Wednesday as its 22 home victories are tied for the most by a first-year team set by Gordie Howe and the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80. The Knights have lost back-to-back at home just once, and that’s with an asterisk: 2-1 to the Islanders on Jan. 25 and then following a six-game road trip, 4-1 to the Flyers on Feb. 11. Vegas is unbeaten it its past seven at home vs. teams with a winning road record. Make it eight straight for Wednesday’s NHL pick.

comment here