After yet another big victory on a featured play last night with the Pittsburgh Penguins, we boost our record to 20-9 here at The Sports Geek. We’ve reeled off three straight victories, and will look to make it 4 in a big Sunday night Northwest division tilt.
Vancouver Canucks (-125) @ Calgary Flames (+105)
Though this is a tough, back-to-back spot for the Canucks, their talent alone should propel them over a struggling Flames squad. Vancouver is listed as far too short of favourites here, and expect a big bounce-back outing from star netminder Roberto Luongo. The last time Luongo played, he was shelled for 8 goals against the Detroit Red Wings. You can bet he’ll be chomping at the bit to demonstrate his talents once again.
The Flames enter this contest as losers of 4 of their past 6 games, including a brutal last game against the Avalanche where they blew a late 3rd period lead. Meanwhile, the Canucks are fresh off a decisive performance Saturday night against their rivals, the L.A. Kings. Vancouver controlled the entire game, winning comfortably y a 5-2 score-line. Henrik Sedin called it their best game in a while, and look for a much more talented Canucks side to keep this momentum going. The Northwest Division is somewhat tight in 2013, and with the Minnesota Wild hot on the trail of Vancouver, the Canucks must keep accumulating valuable points over inferior teams.
The Canucks are an impressive 13-2-3 against Calgary in their last 18 games, while Luongo is 4-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against-average in his last 5 starts versus the Flames. Calgary will again return to veteran joruneyman Joey MacDonald for this start. While MacDonald has proved decent in relief for star goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, facing the explosive Canucks will not be easy. Though they’ll be without Ryan Kesler, this Vancouver team should overwhelm a brutal Flames squad that is heading nowhere fast.
The Flames have really no shot at the post-season, and have no real aspirations to have a true rebuild. They’re a franchise in flux, and that sort of disarray is playing out onto the ice surface. Expect a hungry Vancouver squad to escape Alberta with an easy 2 points on Sunday night.
PICK = Vancouver (-125)
On a surprisingly busy Sunday slate of NHL contests, here are a few more recommendations to whet your betting appetite. We’re 17-12 with these on the season.
Bonus Pick #1: Ottawa (+135) The Senators sure are depleted, but boy are they ever competing. They get great goaltending every game, and as a result are in every single game. How they’re this big of underdogs against a brutal Islanders squad is beyond me. The pesky Sens are great value in this spot, and look for coach Paul MacLean’s squad to keep on fighting.
Bonus Pick #2: St. Louis (-110) The Blues are better than the Stars in every facet of hockey, though Brian Elliott returns to the pipes for St. Louis. Elliott has been brutal this season, but look for an improved outing after some time off to think. The Blues are playing great hockey at the moment, and should be able to overwhelm a mediocre Dallas group.
Bonus Pick #3: Carolina (-115) Fresh off a 6-2 pasting of the Panthers last night, look for the ‘Canes to do it again, this time in Florida. The Panthers are too banged up, and too bad of a team to reel off victories right now, and as the Hurricanes get healthy, they’re only going to get better. Florida lost goalie Jose Theodore to injury last night, and Carolina will take advantage. The ‘Canes are the beasts of the Southeast division, and they’ll continue to prove it again tonight.