Division-Leading Preds, Flames Meet Final Time This (Regular) Season

Matthew Jordan

Friday, December 7, 2018 4:10 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 4:10 PM UTC

Probably the marquee matchup in the NHL on a busy Saturday isn’t one many would expect: Nashville at Calgary in a matchup of division leaders.

Nashville (19-9-1) at Calgary (18-9-2)Saturday, 10 p.m. ETFree NHL Pick: Flames PLBest Line Offered: SportsBetting

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3493875, "sportsbooksIds":[999991,1096,999996,238,19], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Per usual, a busy Saturday around the NHL with 10 games. With all due respect to Avalanche-Lightning or Capitals-Blue Jackets (which my cohort Jimmy Murphy will preview here at SBR), the marquee matchup in this writer’s opinion is Central Division-leading Nashville at Pacific Division leader Calgary.

That the Predators are atop the West in points is zero surprise because they won the Presidents’ Trophy a season ago and opened the year as conference favorites – they still are, priced at +260, well ahead of No. 2 Colorado (+550).

That Calgary is leading the Pacific Division is one of the surprises of the season as the Flames missed the playoffs a season ago with 84 points. That cost Coach Glen Gulutzan his job, and he was replaced by Bill Peters – who resigned after last season from the Hurricanes rather than be fired. Peters has to be the Jack Adams favorite for Coach of the Year. Calgary is +900 to win the West.

If the Predators and Flames play again this season, it would be in the playoffs as this is their third and final meeting. On Oct. 9, the Flames went to Nashville and impressively won 3-0. Mike Smith was brilliant with 43 saves, and the Flames got two goals from Sean Monahan. Ten days later in Calgary, the Predators won 5-3. Zac Rinaldo scored the go-ahead goal at 6:31 of the third. The Flames had rallied from deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2. Pekka Rinne started for Nashville but left in the third due to injury. Juuse Saros didn’t allow a goal in relief.

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

Kick off your day with a cup of ☕️ and our highlight pack from last night's 2-0 win over the Wild! pic.twitter.com/aIqghMD7r0

— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 7, 2018
\n\n"}[/]

Flames Are Rolling

Nashville started a two-game swing through Canada with its two-game winning streak ending in a 5-3 loss at struggling Vancouver on Thursday. Rinne allowed four goals on 25 shots and was pulled after Elias Pettersson scored on a penalty shot, making it 4-1 for the Canucks. Rinne has lost three of his past five appearances and started six games in a row, so I’d expect Saros in there Saturday. He’s 7-4-0 with a 3.29 GAA and .889 save percentage.

The Preds are banged up right now as forwards Kyle Turris, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, and defenseman P.K. Subban all are on injured reserve and have been for a while. That’s a lot of talent.

Calgary won its fourth straight Thursday, 2-0 over Minnesota – two days after a whopping nine-goal outburst in Columbus. Smith stopped 31 shots vs. the Wild to win his fifth consecutive outing (he got the W in relief vs. the Blue Jackets). It was his second shutout of the year and 38th career.

Elias Lindholm had both goals and is up to 15, two shy of his career high set in 2014-15. He’s one of four Flames – along with Johnny Gaudreau, Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk – with at least 32 points. Calgary is 13-2 this year when scoring first.

  • Predators are 0-5 in their last 5 road games.
  • Flames are 11-1 in their last 12 games playing on 1 days rest.

We don’t recommend the puck line too often but will do so here for a Saturday NHL pick as the Flames are rolling, and the Preds are short-handed and likely starting their backup goaltender.

comment here