My mini cold streak reached three days on Wednesday night as I dropped my lone free NHL pick.
I don’t really blame myself for this one, however. I had what should have been an amped Montreal Canadiens team to take care of a weak Blackhawks team playing their second game in as many nights, however neither was the case.
The Canadiens were flat as a pancake in this one and trailed 2-0 after one period. They got within one early in the second, but it was still all Blackhawks from there on out and the Canadiens were handed a 4-1 loss in this one.
With their playoff hopes on the line, like they will be every night from here on out, it was a wildly disappointing effort and an unacceptable one at that.
Nonetheless, I’ll take this loss on the chin and move onto a huge 13-game NHL schedule tonight!
Season Record: 77-66-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Flames vs. Maple Leafs from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto!
Flames vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds
- Flames (+142)
- Maple Leafs (-157)
- Flames +1.5 (-184)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+164)
- Over 6.5 (-105)
- Under 6.5 (-105)
Flames vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
The Flames took a five-game winning streak onto the road for a three-game eastern swing, however they were dealt a 2-0 loss to the Canadiens to open up the trip.
The loss also snapped a three-game road wining streak for the Flames who sit third in a jam-packed Pacific Division race at the moment.
The lack of goal-scoring on the road on Tuesday was nothing new. With the goose egg in that one, the Flames now sit 29th with just 2.28 goals per game on the road this season where their power play sits 20th with a 16.9% mark.
Essentially, the Flames have earned a decent 12-11-2 mark on the road thanks to their defense and penalty kill.
Their road defense enters this one ranked 11th with 2.92 goals against per game while their road penalty kill is the fourth-best mark in the NHL with an 83.8% mark in that department.
The Flames sport some decent, middle of the pack advanced metrics on the road, but there’s one key area that has killed them away from home, and it has to do with that offense.
Calgary’s 5.97% 5v5 road shooting percentage is the lowest mark in the NHL while their 10.69% high-danger 5v5 road shooting percentage is by far the worst mark in the NHL.
Last season, the lowest road 5v5 high-danger shooting percentage was 12.61%, authored by the Vancouver Canucks. The previous season, the lowest mark in that area was the 13.60% number the Florida Panthers put forth.
In other words, I would suspect the Flames should see a positive regression trend in that high-danger number at least as recent history is telling us that even the worst of teams have been much better than this.
The Flames have received strong goaltending for much of the season and tonight that task will be that of No.1 netminder David Rittich.
Rittich took a tough-luck loss on Montreal on Tuesday as he turned aside 35 of 37 Canadiens shots (.946 Sv%), but, as noted, received zero goal support.
The nice effort snapped a three-game cold streak that saw him post an .849 Sv%.
He’s been reliable on the whole this season, however. Rittich enters this one sporting a 2.79 GAA and .913 Sv% on the season with strong work on the road that includes a 2.83 GAA and .915 Sv% in 18 starts.
Rittich allowed two goals on 34 shots (.941 Sv%) in a 4-2 win in their meeting in Calgary back on December 12th.
The Maple Leafs were recently cooled off from a 9-0-1 stretch with a three-game losing streak that culminated in an embarrassing 8-4 loss in Florida on Sunday night.
However, they bounced back with a 7-4 win over the Devils at home on Tuesday, but the score doesn’t do the Leafs justice as they dominated the Devils for much of the game before a late offensive outburst.
Still, the Maple Leafs allowed at least four goals for the fourth straight game since shutting out the Islanders on January 4th.
They’ll enter this one in a tie for 22nd with 3.13 goals against per game on the season at home where their penalty kill has struggled with a 23rd-ranked 78.3% mark.
That said, the seven-goal output continued a scorching hot offensive trend for the Maple Leafs.
With the seven-spot, the Maple Leafs are now the NHL’s highest scoring team overall with 3.66 goals per game on the season and seventh with 3.61 goals per game at home.
Since Sheldon Keefe took over for Mike Babcock on November 21st – a span of 24 games – the Maple Leafs are by far the NHL’s highest-scoring team with 4.17 goals per game (Panthers 2nd with 3.63) while their power play is also the best in the business during that time with a 32.7% mark, also by a wide margin over second-place Edmonton (27.6%).
For good measure, the Maple Leafs are 16-6-2 in that time, the fourth-best team in the league by points percentage (.708).
The Maple Leafs are missing their top two left-handed defensemen in Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin right now – both with a broken foot – which isn’t ideal for a team with back end issues already, however Frederik Andersen has certainly been off his game of late as well.
The Maple Leafs’ backbone owns a decent 2.86 GAA and .910 Sv% on the season, but he enters this one on a cold streak.
Andersen owns just a 3.14 GAA and .901 Sv% at home after allowing four to the Devils on Tuesday and now owns a ghastly 4.54 GAA and .875 Sv% across five January outings on the heels of a subpar 3.03 GAA and .904 Sv% in December.
It’s actually been quite an extended stretch of suspect play from the player the Maple Leafs will need the most down the stretch.
The Flames offensive road woes continued on Monday in Montreal, but I see some light at the end of the tunnel in this matchup.
The Maple Leafs are cold on the back end right now, and I think that opens up opportunity for the Flames to get off the offensive schneid away from home.
The issue, of course, will be quieting down the Maple Leafs white-hot offense, especially Auston Matthews who is perhaps the hottest player in the NHL right now coming off a hat trick on Tuesday against the Devils.
They have been sound on the back end away from home, however, and their penalty kill is in good shape to be the one to finally silence this deadly Maple Leafs power play.
I have a real hard time seeing value in the Maple Leafs at this price against a quality Flames team while their goaltending is struggling and while their defensive corps is missing two key elements.
As a result, I am going to side with the road team here and take the Flames as substantial road dogs in this one tonight.