The Calgary Flames stay on the road to start the week, as the Washington Capitals play host on Monday night at Verizon Center. The Flames made stops in Detroit and Philadelphia, where they took a loss against the Red Wings, and rebounded for a 5-4 overtime win in Philadelphia. The Flames haven’t been here nor there. There are some teams you can look at their record and think, okay, they’re off to a slow start, they’ll come back.
With the Flames, I don’t know if you can exactly call it a slow start. Calgary are 11-8-0, which is just about where anyone would have them at this point in the season. They reached the playoffs with a record of 45-33-4 in the 2016-17 season and lost to the Ducks in the first-round of the postseason. Naturally they lost to the Ducks, a team who has been a major thorn in their side over the years. The year prior in 2015-16, they were a huge letdown and missed the playoffs completely.
The Capitals are coming off a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. The win snapped a nice four-game winning streak for the Wild. Alex Stalock got the nod in net, as Devan Dubnyk was given the night off. Braden Holtby wasn’t looking too elite, but against the Wild, Holtby came up big several times to assist the Capitals pick up the win. They were previously on a two-game slide on the road, but they came home to break out of the mini-funk.
Alex Ovechkin took a puck to the face, which left a good amount of blood to clean up. He ultimately came back in the game, so it isn’t anything that will hinder him moving forward. Mike Smith returned in net for the Flames on Saturday. After watching the performance from Eddie Lack against the Wings, it’s a good thing Smith is back. Lack was torched for 8 goals against a Wings’ offence who aren’t known for their sharpshooting. If Smith goes down for an extended period of time, the Flames are going to get roasted. His GAA has ballooned to 5.29. We’re on a five-game winning streak in the NHL. Hopefully we can add to it tonight with another win. Head below for our free Flames vs. Capitals pick.
Calgary Flames vs. Washington Capitals Pick
Sean Monahan registered the first-career hat trick of career against the Flyers on Saturday night. The 23-year-old looks like he should be a fixture on the Flames for a long time to come. He’s already potted 11 goals and 9 assists on the year. Michael Furland has also been a major contributor for the Flames. He’s only 25 years old, so they have a ton of young talent up front on the first-line.
Johnny Gaudreau has been on fire, too. He’s on a nine-game point streak, with 9 goals and 20 assists in total. And then you look at 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr and you can’t help but laugh. Jagr was looking for a team this offseason, and he found a landing spot with the Flames. He’s nothing more than a locker room piece and leader for the youngsters, and the Flames are fine with that.
Mike Smith enters tonight with a 2.70 GAA and 0.919 save percentage. While their offence has plenty of promise, the defence must get better. On the year, the Flames are allowing 3.26 goals per game, 25th in the NHL. Smith went from an awful defensive unit in Arizona, right to the Flames who are struggling in their own defensive zone as well.
Smith has had a heck of a time against the Caps in his career, getting throttled for a 3.42 GAA and 0.889 save percentage. Surprisingly, Holtby has struggled against the Flames. He was sharp in a 2-1 loss in October, but overall, Holtby has a 2.88 GAA and 0.887 save percentage against the Flames in seven starts. The Flames have averaged 4.6 goals per game in their last six outings.
The offence is certainly starting to gel together, especially that first-line. While they’ve scored 4.6 goals during that stretch, they allowed the same right back to the other team, 4.6 goals allowed. The Capitals are allowing 3.14 goals per game, 21st in the NHL. I expect that number to go up as the season progresses, but right now, they’re still trying to work things out the blue line. It appears that there should be more than 5 goals in store for us tonight.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-110)