NHL Early Lines Report: Calgary Flames vs Edmonton Oilers

 Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) looks for a loose puck

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 10:23 PM GMT

Sports handicapper Ian Cameron provides an NHL Early Lines Report for the hockey card taking place on Wednesday for the opening night of the NHL regular season.

 

 

Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers

The Battle Of Alberta reignites on the opening night of the NHL regular season as the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers do battle in the first ever regular season game at the brand new Rogers Place in Edmonton, the new home of the Oilers. I think both of these teams are going to be worth betting on early in the season but for this game and given the situation, I am going to side with the Oilers as moderately priced home favorites in this game, as my NHL pick.

Edmonton is opening their brand new arena and looking to make an early statement. The Oilers named Connor McDavid captain of the team and I was impressed with his performance during the preseason after being given the C. Edmonton should have little trouble scoring goals and producing offensively with McDavid, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi among others leading a talented forward group. Milan Lucic should prove to be a solid veteran addition to the team and his ability to crash the net could open up opportunities for his line mates.

Edmonton’s ability to keep the puck out of their own net at the defensive end of the ice is the biggest question mark with this team as it has been for many years. However, the Oilers went a long way to bolstering their blue line in a trade with the New Jersey Devils in the offseason in which they acquired top pair blue liner Adam Larsson. I also expect improvement from two solid of their young defensemen with plenty of potential in Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom (two former 1st round draft picks of the Oilers) to play better this season. Cam Talbot has shown he is capable of being a good NHL starting goalie but the key for him is facing fewer shots per game and less quality scoring chances than he routinely had to face last season.

 

Stanley Cup Betting Futures, Find Each Team's Odds Here

 

I expect Edmonton to be an improved team this season in all facets and while I expect Calgary to also be better this season, it may take more time for them. Edmonton is in the second year of Todd McLellan as their head coach while Calgary has a completely new head coach and staff led by Glen Gulutzan. Gulutzan was briefly the head coach of the Dallas Stars for a season and a half. With him and a new staff coming onboard, there could be an adjustment period for Calgary as a result.

The Flames upgraded their goaltending bringing in Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues which they desperately needed to do. Last year this team finished last in save percentage which was a big reason for their undoing. That shouldn’t be an issue this year. What will likely be an issue is team depth. Top heavy is a word that gets undeservedly thrown around for good teams like the Penguins and Sharks that have great players and depth.

The Flames have great players, but the bottom of the roster looks sketchy. They have a very good top six forward group led by Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan but the bottom six forwards are questionable. Their 3rd and 4th lines are one of the weakest in the entire NHL on paper and that is something they will need to overcome by having their top two lines really come through with big seasons. I have positive expectations for both teams but I like the situation and the spot better here for Edmonton to come out with the win in their first game at their new home.

 

Free NHL Pick: Edmonton -122 


Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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