Flames vs. Avalanche + Bonus Pick – NHL March 14th

The Calgary Flames travel to Denver for a meeting with a team that has shared sort of a similar story as they have. The Avalanche were without a doubt the breakout team of the 2013-2014 season. Under first year head coach Patrick Roy not many people envisioned seeing the Avs take such a big leap forward, but they rolled through the competition, in the regular season anyway that is. They exited early with a first round loss to the Minnesota Wild in game 7. The Avalanche are now finding out that life without Paul Stastny hasn’t been so easy. We can’t say that it hasn’t been a bad season for the Avs, they are 31-26-7-4 and within a playoff spot. There is still talent abound on this team with Matt Duchene leading the way in that respect. They also added a wily veteran in the offseason, Jarome Iginla, who will be facing his old team tonight, the Calgary Flames.

There are two favorites when it comes to the breakout award of this season. Arguably that award can go to the New York Islanders. Another contender for that is the Calgary Flames. I think the Flames get the edge in shock value. The Isles were stockpiling talent for a few seasons now and it was a matter of time before the put a banner year together. Did I think, or many others, that they would be flirting with 1st overall in the NHL? I did not that is for certain. But did I think that the Flames were going to be having this much success? That I did not. At 37-25-3-2 I believed the Flames were going to be a few games above .500 at this point, but they have really gone above and beyond the call of duty. Like getting over an ex-girlfriend, the Flames have more than moved on from Jarome Iginla and are happy the position that they are in now. They’ll remember the memories, but have better things planned for the future.

Calgary Flames @ Colorado Avalanche

If there has been one thing the Flames have improved from a season ago its been the offense. It hasn’t been a small adjustment, the Flames have gone upwards in a big way. They moved from the back of the NHL in goals a game to the front of the pack this season. Note that the Flames are 6th in the league averaging 2.88 goals per game. Calgary has had some good success over the Avs their last couple of games, as they were able to score 4 goals on them in each to beat them in consecutive games. It isn’t only the Avalanche that the Flames have had success over lately. Looking at their most recent games they’ve been able to beat the Red Wings on the road, the Ducks, and the Bruins. All three wins are big for them, not only with regards to playoff seeding, but it assists in the confidence department as well. It provides the Flames with a feeling like they belong with the big boys and the success they have had this season is not just a fluke. After that big win against the Ducks their last time out they’ll have to avoid a letdown spot against the Avs.

The Avalanche are fighting for their playoff lives at the moment, so don’t expect them to lay down for this Flames team. The offense has taken a hit with the departure of Stastny, but have been playing well of late. In their last ten games they’ve been scoring 2.90 goals per game. The Flames have been playing well too on offense, netting 3.00 goals per game during their last ten. In their last four games they haven’t scored less than 4 goals. In those games they scored an average of 4.75 times per game. And like I alluded to the Flames have played well against the Avs in their most recent matchups. The OVER is 4-0 in their last four tilts. With scoring up for both teams, I expect us to be able to get OVER 5.5 goals.



New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres

Like the above-mentioned teams, the Rangers have improved as well. It is silly to say a team that just made it to the Stanley Cup Finals improved, but that is what the Rangers have done. They have the ability to win it all, now they just need to go out and do it. The offense has improved by leaps and bounds, adding to an already deadly defensive unit for the Rangers. The Rangers are averaging 3.03 goals a game which puts them as the 4th highest scoring team in the NHL. Consequently, the Rangers own one of the best offenses and defenses in the NHL. Note that they are 3rd in the league in goals against.

The Rangers have absolutely destroyed their competition of late. They have won six straight games over the Sabres dating back to April of 2013. New York went 7-1 to the PL in those particular games, beating the Sabres by more than a goal in seven. Buffalo is in the midst of another tail-spin, losing five straight games. To make matters worse they have a 42-17-2-5 Rangers team coming to town. Take the Rangers at -1.5 to win by more than a goal tonight.