Calgary is a massive betting favorite vs. a Toronto team that has struggled mightily. In Toronto's last 37 games, they're just 8-27-3. That said, Calgary has had trouble with Toronto this season.
Ice-time is set for 8:00 pm ET at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. According to 5 Dimes Sportsbook, the Flames are a -190 NHL odds betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 5.5 goals. While Calgary is such an enormous favorite, they've been winless against the Maple Leafs this season. Is Calgary a possible fade in this game?
As of now, there's no confirmation as of who will be in goal for the Leafs. Jonathan Berrnier is the likely candidate. For the Flames, it's confirmed that Jonas Hiller will be between the pipes tonight.
Toronto's defense has been the reason why they will not be playing in the post season this year. They allow 3.07 goals on 33 shots on net per game.
Jonathan Bernier will need to be at his best as Calgary has the momentum and something to play for. So far this season, Bernier carries a 20-21-6 mark with a 2.80 GAA. Lately, he's been average at best, despite losing 3 out of his last 4 games.
In his last game, he came away with a well earned 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout as he swept aside 30 out of 33 games. This coming after a 39 save night in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders. Expect Bernier to see plenty of pucks come his way and he could be the difference between a win or a loss.
As for Hiller, he hasn't seen action Since March 8th and has been inconsistent at best. For the season, Hiller is 20-17-4 with a 2.41 GAA. I give Hiller a slight advantage where goaltenders are concerned as he's well rested and most likely won't feel the pressure that Bernier will.
While Russell has rarely found his way into the opponent's net, he's been on a major tear as of late. He's coming off of a 3 assist game in a 6-3 victory over Anaheim and has 2 goals and 6 assists in his last 5 games. The Flames will definitely look for Russell to keep the run going as he's scored only 3 goals all season long to go along with 25 assists.
A Bright Future
Another player to keep an eye on from a Calgary perspective is rookie Johnny Gaudreau. Gaurdreau ranks amongst the Flames greats in rookie scoring. Lately, he's been a major contributor to the Flames playoff run. Gaudreau is coming off of a 2 goal game against the Ducks and in his last 5 games, has 3 goals and 3 assists.
For the season, Gaudreau has 50 points and ranks 2nd on the all-time rookie scoring list for the Flames. With a very weak Leafs defense, we could see Gaudreau add to his total as he's 2nd only to Jerome Iginla all-time.
If a team is going to allow over 3 goals per game, they must need a formidable offense to be a contender. The closest thing to formidable is the combination of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.
Kessel puts a ton of pressure on the opposing goalie with 225 shots on goal, but has only cashed in for 23 goals and 29 assists. This is still good for top scorer on the Leafs. Van Riemsdyk has also played a solid supporting role. In his one and only game against the Flames this season Van Riemsdyk had 2 points. The Leafs will also rely on center, Tyler Bozak, who is coming off of a goal in a 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo. Bozak is a power play specialist that leads Toronto with 11 power play goals for the season.
There's no way to get around it. While Toronto is capable of winning any game on any given night, they're not a very good team and can't protect the net. The juice is high but Calgary has proven to be the NHL pick in this matchup.
Free NHL Pick: Calgary -190 at 5Dimes