The NHL is filled with thirteen games on November 1. Colorado and Calgary will meet for the second time on Thursday night. The Avalanche and Flames will meet for the final time on January 9. I expect another close matchup between these two teams as they both look to stay near the top of the standings.
Calgary has started out the season with a 7-5-1 record. The Flames are tied for the top spot in the Pacific Division with the San Jose Sharks. Calgary is currently on a two-game winning streak. This game on Thursday night will be their third game in four nights.
Colorado is in second place of the Central Division with a 7-3-2 record. The Avalanche have been one of the top teams in terms of scoring this season. Colorado has lost two of their last three games but will look to get back on track with a win on Thursday night. Colorado’s last game was on Saturday night, which gives them five days rest between games.
The Avalanche and Flames have both started out the season pretty strong. Colorado may have the advantage in this game though because they have had a five-day break between games, while Calgary is playing their third in four nights. I believe this could still be a close game.
Last season, the Flames and Avalanche met up three times. The first meeting of the season was held in Colorado. Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist. David Rittich turned away 24 of 26 shots in route to the win. Calgary ended up winning 3-2.
The second game of the season series shifted back to Calgary. Mikael Backlund had another good night as he scored a goal and added two assists. T.J. Brodie, Troy Bouwer and Matthew Tkachuk all had two points in the win. Jon Gillies had 28 saves as the Flames coasted to a 5-1 win.
The final matchup of the season was held in Colorado. The Avalanche got some measure of revenge with a 5-2 win. Mikael Backlund had another goal and assist, but it was not enough. Tyson Barrie, Blake Comeau, Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg all had two points in Colorado’s win. Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 of 32 shots.
Colorado hosted the first matchup of this season between the two teams. The Avalanche took the Flames to overtime but fell short on a goal by Johnny Gaudreau. David Rittich had 24 saves in the win, while Varlamov stopped 38 of 41 shots on goal.
The Flames have gone 3-1 against Colorado between this season and last season. Colorado is a solid team and I believe that they will bounce back from their loss earlier in the season. The Avalanche have a roster that should be able to beat Calgary more consistently and they will look to prove it.
I believe special teams could play a huge factor in Thursday night’s matchup. The Avalanche’s power play has been extremely efficient to start out the season. Colorado is scoring at a rate of 24 percent on the power play. The Avalanche’s penalty kill is also playing really well, as they are stopping teams about 88.5 percent of the time.
Calgary’s special teams have not been nearly as good as the Avalanche’s. The Flames have scored on 15 percent of their power play opportunities. Calgary’s penalty kill is not doing much better as they have been stopping team’s 73 percent of the time. The Flames are going to have some difficulty matching up with the Avalanche on the power play and penalty kill.
With a huge advantage on special teams, Colorado could really use this to propel them to victory. The Avalanche have a lot of mixes on their power play, which will provide some difficulty for Calgary’s penalty kill to match up with them. If the Avalanche can get a couple of power play goals and stop the Flames on their man advantages, I believe it would give Colorado the win.
Mike Smith is expected to start in net for the Flames. Smith has struggled to begin this season. Smith has a save percentage of .878 and a 3.55 GAA to begin the season. He has posted a record of 4-4-1 in his games played. Smith has needed Calgary to score a lot of goals to help him get his wins, which will not be easy against Colorado.
I believe Semyon Varlamov will start in net on Thursday night for the Avalanche. Varlamov has been really good to start out this season. He has a record of 4-2-2, but his numbers are really good. He has a .950 save percentage and a GAA of 1.62. Calgary will need another high shooting performance to beat him again.
I give the edge in net to Colorado. Smith has struggled to start this season, while Varlamov has come off of last season’s injury like it was nothing. I believe that it will take a dominant performance on the offensive end for Calgary to win. If the Avalanche can win the time of possession, I believe they will win the game.
The Avalanche have hit a small rough patch recently, but they can get out of it with a win on Thursday night. Calgary has been hot in their last couple games, but I believe their small win streak will come to an end. With five days of rest, Colorado should come out of the gates fast, which could put the Flames, who are already tired, on the ropes early.
BetOnline has Calgary listed at a money line of -130, which implies they will win this game 57 percent of the time. I believe that number is a little high. While the Flames are at home and on a two-game winning streak, the Avalanche are going to be tough to beat. I am going with the road underdogs.