The Calgary Flames land in Columbus for the second city for the final leg of a brief two-game road trip east. They were in Chicago on Sunday and eked out a close 3-2 win against the Blackhawks. I don’t know if that can be characterized as a good win, the Blackhawks are an awful bunch this season, but any time 2 points are earned on the road, it isn’t a bad night at the office.
The Flames hope to pick up another win before heading home to play the Wild on Thursday. They will welcome the Predators to Calgary on Saturday for a big game against one of the leagues best. The Flames have quietly been stockpiling some talent over the past few years and it’s almost time that they make a move.
It’s too early to establish where the Flames are heading. They’re one of those bubble teams who could either go on a run, or play below expectations and miss out on the playoffs. With a record of 37-35-10 and 84 points a season ago, it wasn’t enough to get to the playoffs. This season will be seen as a failure if they just stabilize and don’t improve.
Thus far, they’ve gone 16-9-1, with a lot left to be decided. I think they’re a year away from being a team worth mentioning as a playoff contender, but they should at least be able to get in with the talent they have on their roster. James Neal was added after an excellent year in Vegas, but he’s been a tremendous bust with 3 goals and 3 assists so far.
All of the magic he had last season has been lost somewhere. On a team with young talent like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm, it made sense to bring in a veteran presence who is battle tested. He hasn’t put the Flames over the top, at least not yet. They will take on the 15-9-1 Blue Jackets, a team that has had a similar season. Head below for our free Flames vs. Blue Jackets pick.
Calgary Flames vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pick
The Flames enter with wins in six of their last eight games. They’ve won their last two games against the Blackhawks and Kings. Not the stingiest of tests, but it counts all the same. It’s important to win the winnable games and helps out immensely down the stretch. Conversely, the Jackets have won six of their last nine games. They are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Islanders. It was a dead even game throughout, with the shots 30-29 in favour of Columbus.
The Isles were just able to get the go-ahead goal in the 3rd to get the win. There is plenty of hidden talent on this Columbus roster. No one talks about the Blue Jackets because of their small market, but Cam Atkinson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Especially Dubois, who is only 20 years old and has notched 13 goals and 12 assists. Atkinson has recorded 16 goals and 11 assists to lead the team with 27 points.
Sergei Bobrovsky enters this evening with a flawless history against the Flames in his career. In fact, he hasn’t played better against anyone else. Bobrovsky has been stellar with a 1.88 GAA and 0.933 save percentage against the Flames in 12 appearances. This will be the first start against the Blue Jackets for David Rittich.
He’s been solid in his first season in a fulltime capacity with the Flames, as he looks to improve on a 2.21 GAA and 0.924 save percentage. The Jackets can bury the puck at home, though, with 3.75 goals per game so far in Columbus. They’ve scored an average of 5 goals in their last three outings at Nationwide Arena. Look for the Blue Jackets emerge with a victory in what should be a pretty good game in Ohio tonight.