Road Dog Flames Our Free NHL Pick When Facing The Hurricanes

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, January 24, 2016 4:45 PM GMT

The Calgary Flames fly to Raleigh on the fourth leg of their five-game homestand while the Hurricanes have dropped three of their last four. Let's find the best value for our NHL picks.

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Free NHL Pick: Calgary +106
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Calgary Flames (21-24 SU, -1.2 units)
The Flames had lost four of their last five games before Thursday night's 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. And while any win is a good win there is something else happening that has to please all those who follow the Hurricanes and back them in their NHL picks. Their fourth-overall pick from the 2014 draft, Sam Bennett, is blossoming big time. The 6'1" center iceman from Holland Landing, Ontario is beginning to figure things out as evidenced by his recent scoring binge which has netted the 19-year-old eight goals over his last five games.

The Flames welcomed back top netminder Karri Ramo after a 10 day absence. Ramo had caught a puck to the throat after a practice two weeks ago and then had a rough outing the following night in a 5-4 loss to the Sharks in which he saved only 13-of-18 shots. Jonas Hiller has tended the twine while Ramo has been given a rest from his heavy workload and apparently the three games off did him a world of good as the Finnish netminder had a solid performance in the Flames' Thursday night victory over Columbus.

 

Carolina Hurricanes (21-28 SU, -6.1 units)
A week ago today the Hurricanes were blanked 5-0 by the Penguins in Pittsburgh but much to their credit they responded four days later with a stalwart defensive effort in their next contest which proved to be a gritty 1-0 overtime win in Toronto. The team flew home the following night to host the Rangers and realized just how far they have to go in order to compete with the iron of the league when they were outplayed and outscored 4-1 in their own building by New York.

The Hurricanes lost their starting goalie Cam Ward for the season with a concussion and have recently turned to former Vancouver Canuck Eddie Lack as their starter. Lack was stellar in his 32-save blanking of the Maple Leafs but was rocky just 24 hours later against the Rangers allowing two goals in the first two periods and dug the Hurricanes in a hole from which they would not crawl out. Lack has only seven wins in 20 appearances this year and his numbers (.896 save percentage, 2.85 GAA) reflect more of a semi-capable backup than a battled tested starter.  Nevertheless, unless Lack completely collapses or Carolina deals for a more veteran netminder he will assume the starting role for the remainder of the season.

 

Betting Analysis
These teams have yet to meet this season but last time they faced off the Hurricanes rolled to a 4-1 decision in Carolina. I don't believe the results will be the same in this one. The NHL odds makers have installed the Hurricanes as a slight home favorites in this one but I like the road pup here. Though Eddie Lack posted solid numbers against the Flames when he toiled for Vancouver he has been subpar at home this season. Lack is 1-5-1 with a 3.15 goals against average in his seven home starts this season while Calgary's Karri Ramo is 3-1-0 with a 0.99 GAA in four starts against the Hurricanes, including a 23-save shutout at PNC Arena in January of 2014.

Calgary is 8-2-1 in their last 11 meetings with Carolina and right now the Flames are playing tough. Before they embarked on this current five-game road trip, they handed the Florida Panthers a decisive 6-0 loss. They then took to the highway and were narrowly edged by Edmonton and New Jersey before they defeated the Blue Jackets in their last outing. I love the way the kid Sam Bennett has been playing for Calgary and the fact that Ramo is back between the pipes. These are evenly matched lower echelon teams but the advantage is clearly with the visitors here.

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