The Calgary Flames snapped a 4-game losing streak with a 3-2 OT win against the Detroit Red Wings. Will they be able to avoid falling back in the loss column when they visit the Rangers tonight?
Calgary split a home-and-home series with the Vancouver Canucks to open the year but promptly followed that up with four straight losses – including three on home ice before finally getting back on track with a win over Detroit. Now the Flames will play five of their next six games on the road, which includes three straight beginning in New York on Sunday. The margin for error is already slim for a team that is expected to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference once again this season. They enter the day with the second-fewest points in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will play their second game in as many nights after visiting the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. They lost 3-2 in a shootout and while it is a back-to-back, they can afford to lay it all on the line in this game since they don’t play again until Friday. New York had dropped three straight before bouncing back with a pair of wins over San Jose and Arizona and they are 3-2 on home ice so far this season.
Projected Starting Goalies
Henrik Lundqvist has been excellent for the Rangers early on but he played against the Flyers on Saturday and that means Antti Raanta could make his second start of the year in this game. Raanta stopped all 22 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks in his first start of the season but could face a tougher test in this game against a more desperate Flames team.
Meanwhile, Karri Ramo cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL by Calgary, leaving Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio as their two goalies on the roster. Hiller is 1-2-0 with a 3.72 GAA and .867 save percentage through four games and is expected to be back between the pipes for the Flames on Sunday.
Calgary proved last season that they can compete in the Western Conference as a legitimate playoff contender but they have had some major issues in their own end early on. That’s cost them on the NHL odds and that is the biggest reason for their slow start. The Flames need better play from their goaltenders and that means Hiller has to step up but he will be in tough on the road against a Rangers team that is very deep up front. Making matters even more difficult is the fact that New York has played so well in its own end this year with the second-best goals against average in the NHL. The Rangers are averaging just 2.0 goals allowed per game with the eighth-best penalty kill standing tall on special teams. That will make the margin for error even slimmer for Calgary and that means they could be in big trouble if Hiller doesn’t step up with a big game.
However, the juice is high on the Rangers, so it’s hard to take them with our NHL picks. Instead, we’ll go with the under. As mentioned, they’re allowing just 2.0 non-shootout goals per game but they’ve had some issues with offense recently. They’ve averaged 2.0 goals per game themselves over their last six. That being the case, we’ll take a shot with the under and hopefully the Flames don’t give up too many to blow the doors off of this under bet.
NHL Pick: Under 5.5 (-125) at The Greek