With the NHL’s condensed regular season winding down, games have become more crucial than ever. That notion is especially trye in the North division where the Calgary Flames will put their slim playoff hopes on the line Tuesday evening as they take on first-place Toronto.
It’s been a roller-coaster season thus for the Flames. Picked by many to challenge for the divisional title, the season has quickly gone awry for this flawed roster. They lack offense for starters, and a coaching change of Geoff Ward to Daryl Sutter has failed to bring the tenacity and structure management had hoped for. With a few weeks remaining, the Flames can ill-afford any more slip-ups.
It may not be easy going against a pretty dominating Toronto side, who comfortably sit first place in the North. Though the Leafs lost last night to Montreal, Toronto is capable of dominating any opponent, and some recent deadline acquisitions have only enhanced their chances for glory. The Leafs are a little short-handed entering Tuesday night however, as William Nylander remains on the COVID list, while Ben Hutton and Nick Foligno remain in quarantine following their recent trades.
The Leafs will be keenly seeking to rebound after a sluggish outing last night, but a back-to-back spot against a rested opponent is always a tall task. The Flames will be ready, and so will we! So continue reading on beneath the current posted odds for further analysis and a betting preview for this all-Canadian clash.
Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Betting Odds:
Calgary Flames (+145)
Toronto Maple Leafs (-165)
Over 5.5 (-120)
Under 5.5 (+100)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick:
One of the biggest storylines surrounding Tuesday’s clash has to be who starts in goal for the Leafs. Jack Campbell is due for a rest following an 11-0 start to his campaign coming to an end last night, leaving the options of Michael Hutchinson or David Rittich.
The Leafs went out and acquired Rittich earlier this week, from these same Flames. Oddly enough, he travelled over to Toronto with his Flames’ teammates, after being traded! Surely he’d like to get the opportunity Tuesday night to take on his old mates, though the starter remains a big question at this writing. The thinking here is however that Toronto will give Rittich a shot, making for a must-see encounter between these sides.
Toronto looked sluggish last night, especially in transporting the puck through the neutral zone. Missing William Nylander from their second line has quickly made this group reliant on their top line, and they’re badly in need of some good puck carriers to gain the opposition’s line.
Calgary fared very well on Saturday taking away the skill and pace of Edmonton in a decisive 5-0 victory. The recipe for Tuesday night has to follow the same formula, and expect it to. Calgary has the speed and tenacity to limit the Leafs in the neutral zone, and if they can put enough pucks deep on a tired Buds’ blue-line, Calgary should be able to keep pace with added shots and scoring chances.
Rittich has the potential to play exceptionally well, but he’s had a wildly inconsistent season. Though he’ll be looking to make a good first impression on his new side, this is a Calgary side with many skilled shooters – all of whom presumably know where and how to beat their old teammate.
Though Toronto enters the rightful favourites given their recent dominance and impressive possession metrics, the Flames have been playing better of late as well. And though the playoffs still seem to be a bit of a pipe dream for the Alberta side, Calgary has no choice but to go out there and play. Their system and structure can be disruptive to Toronto’s high-end skill, and look for them to be able to take advantage of their extra rest and the key absences from the Leafs’ lineup. As juicy underdogs, look for the Flames to offer great value vs. Toronto.