Take Rising Flames As Your NHL Pick To Win Over Predators

Jason Lake

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 1:59 PM GMT

The Nashville Predators are one of the hottest NHL picks on the market. Will they keep their foot on the gas Wednesday night when they visit the Calgary Flames?

The Nashville Predators have won seven of their last eight games. The one time they lost: Last Thursday, 5-4 in overtime versus the New Jersey Devils (+226 away). Adam Henrique scored the tying goal for New Jersey with 40 seconds left in regulation. Then he scored the winning goal on the power play, after Pekka Rinne had been called for delay of game for covering up the puck well outside his crease.

No time for bad beat stories. The Predators are back in action this Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET) when the visit the Calgary Flames, who are playing some incredibly bad hockey these days. Nashville is a –155 favorite on the NHL odds boards as we go to press. That seems pretty generous at first blush. Shall we investigate?

 

Tickets to Joni
Our friendly friends at Hockey-Reference have the Predators (34-21-12) ranked fifth in the Western Conference at +0.21 on the Simple Rating System. The Flames (27-34-5) are 11th out of the 14 Western teams at –0.43 SRS. That works out to Nashville –134 without factoring in the chalk. Not generous at all, in other words. Perhaps the Flames are the right NHL pick instead at +135.

Not so fast, Sherman. Calgary is 5-9-2 since February 5, which was the last game Karri Ramo (.909 save percentage) played before tearing up his left knee. Joni Ortio (.897 SV%) is expected to start Wednesday night; he's been feast or famine this year when called up from the minors, but at least Ortio played well in each of his three appearances this month, even if the Flames went 1-1-1. The locals seem rather keen on signing him to a fresh contract. Hmmmm.

 

Welcome Back, Carter
Meanwhile, Nashville figures to start Carter Hutton (.922 SV%) in goal after Rinne (.910 SV%) got the nod in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, cashing in the Preds as –160 road faves. No offense to Rinne, who made some great saves against Winnipeg, but Hutton is the better goalie of the two at this point. Apparently the cat's out of the bag, because we're still having to pay a premium with Nashville's No. 2 goalie in net. Hmmmm.

We're going to take a different route this time and recommend the Flames on the puck line. That was the correct play in each of Ortio's last three starts, two of which ended in a 2-1 defeat for Calgary. There's every chance he'll give up five goals Wednesday night instead of two, but the poker fans here at the home office like that Ortio is on a “polarized range” when it comes to his results. It makes it more likely the Flames will cash in for us.

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Free NHL Pick: Calgary +1.5 (-215)
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker