Free NHL Picks: Trust Red Hot Flames To Scorch Tired Canadiens

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, March 20, 2016 2:38 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 20, 2016 2:38 PM UTC

The Flames have won four of their last six while the Canadiens are coming off a 5-0 loss to Ottawa. Let's review the NHL odds and determine which team is poised to cash tonight in Montreal.

Calgary Flames (30-41, -8.1 units)
After winning a 7-4 stunner in St. Louis as +145 NHL odds home underdogs the Flames then torched the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 and all of a sudden this rudderless ship had appeared to chart a course for success as the season wound down. However in their last outing against the Avalanche, the last of a six game homestand, the results were not quite as positive despite the Flames scoring on two shorthanded tallies within only 30 seconds of each other. Calgary took a 3-2 lead into the final stanza but Colorado's Carl Soderberg (12) knotted the game midway through, sending the game into overtime. Ultimately the contest went to the shootout round where Colorado's Mikkel Boedker beat Joni Ortio for the game winner.

All in all it proved to be a successful homestand for the Flames as they registered a 3-1-2 mark but are still hopelessly out of the postseason discussion. Though their offense has been solid this season averaging 2.7 goals per game (11th) it has been their defense and special teams units that have failed miserably. Calgary is dead last in goals allowed averaging 3.1 per game while their power play unit ranks 28th and their penalty killing unit is dead last at 30th in the league.


Montreal Canadiens (33-39, -10.5 units)
If you backed the Canadiens in your NHL picks at the beginning of the season it seemed like an ATM with a limitless supply of greenbacks. Montreal sizzled out of the gate with nine straight victories to open the season and looked like an early contender for a Stanley Cup run. But oh how times have changed and as we enter the twilight of the 2015-2016 regular season campaign the Habs trail the lowest seeded wildcard entry (Detroit) by 11 points with just 10 games remaining. The club is currently in sixth place of eight teams in the Atlantic Division and one bet guaranteed to cash is that changes are in the offing once the Canadiens play out the string.

Things have not gotten better for Montreal recently as they have dropped three of their last four with the latest debacle coming courtesy of a 5-0 blanking in Ottawa at the hands of the Senators. Of those five Ottawa goals a stunning three of them came when shorthanded. It was only the fourth time in Ottawa's franchise history that this has happened and quite honestly I am surprised it has occurred that often. Montreal's stalwart defenseman P.K. Subban missed his fourth consecutive game due to a neck injury while fellow blueliner Mark Barberio was sidelined with a concussion.


Betting Analysis
These clubs don't face each other very often but their last encounter occurred back in October when the Habs were white hot and captured a 6-2 victory at the Saddledome. But along with the venue changing, so too have the times for Montreal. This is far from the juggernaut we watched when the leaves were turning as the Canadiens have been through a tumultuous year and so have their fans. Perhaps we can cut the Habs a bit of slack after losing their reigning Vezina and Hart Trophy goalie Carey Price to a knee injury back in November. The platoon of Mike Condon and Ben Scrivens has been only moderately serviceable in relief of the league's top netminder.

All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban is on the shelf with a neck injury and is unlikely to take the ice tonight against Calgary. The Canadiens are also playing on zero days rest after their game in Ottawa last night. Mike Condon will be tending the twine tonight for Montreal but he has been porous recently, allowing 4.4 goals per game over his last five. On the other side of the rink Finnish veteran netminder Niklas Backstrom, late of the Minnesota Wild, will make his Calgary debut after being dealt at the end of February. Backstrom was a top notch goalie back in the day and this new lease on life should give him an adrenaline rush that may be contagious.

The bottom line is Calgary is playing better than Montreal and though they are on the road it is Montreal who may be gassed after their 5-0 shellacking last night in Ottawa.

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NHL Pick: Calgary +100
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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