The Calgary Flames are at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Wednesday night, as they look to play a better game after their last game here. The Flames were blasted, 8-2, last season in Detroit. I was at that game, but the Flames certainly weren’t there. Eddie Lack was in net for the Flames and that was just about a death sentence for his career as a starter in the NHL. He’s with the Devils now and has spent the season in the AHL.
His season is done, though, after tearing his labrum. The Flames searched for somebody to start in net last season, but it didn’t go so well. It was ultimately the difference in missing out on the playoffs. Going into this season, the Flames knew they had a ton of talent offensively with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan just to name a couple.
The goaltending was still a question mark, with somebody having to step up for the Flames between the pipes. David Rittich has answered the call and has made the most out of his opportunity. The 26-year-old who has only seen spot duty the last two seasons, has taken over for Mike Smith as the starting netminder in Calgary.
Smith began this season as the starter, but Rittich took advantage of his struggles and made it difficult on the Flames to go back to him full-time. After Rittich started nine of the last ten games, Smith has been pegged as the probable starter on Wednesday night. Nothing has been confirmed, though, but it might make sense to give Smith some work against Detroit. Given him poorly the defence is playing for the Wings, they may not need stellar goaltending anyway. Head below for our free Flames vs. Red Wings pick.
Calgary Flames vs. Detroit Red Wings Pick
The Red Wings had little room for error going into this season. Their chances of reaching the playoffs were already slim to none. Losing guys to injury is pretty much going to stick a fork in that. With four starters on the IR, including the guy leading the team in +/-, defenceman Mike Green, the Red Wings have been getting pushed around recently. They had the Panthers on the ropes with a 3-0 lead in their last outing on New Years’ Eve, but that evaporated and turned into a 4-3 loss.
The Wings are currently on a five-game losing streak, with 4.75 goals allowed in their previous four games. They’ve been running out of gas and getting bullied defensively. You can’t always find Green on the stat sheet, but his effectiveness goes beyond that. His +/- of 10 is 1st on the team by 5. The blue line could need him back for this matchup, but it appears he is at least a few weeks off from returning. Danny DeKeyser and Anthony Mantha have also been out. They did, however, recently just get Darren Helm back which has helped offensively.
In their last meeting, the Wings blew the Flames out of the water, 8-2. Don’t expect that to happen again. The likely blowout would be in the opposite direction for Calgary. Prior to that blowout, the Flames beat the Wings, 6-3, in Calgary. In fact, they’ve won three of the last four meetings.
Their offence has been in good company with Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, and Lindholm leading the show. The emergence of Lindholm has given the Flames an immense boost and a reason why they are tied for 1st in the Pacific. Lindholm has recorded 10 points in the last seven games to give him 44 on the season.
Jimmy Howard owns just a 0.898 save percentage against the Flames in 17 outings. With Smith the probable starter for the Flames, the Wings are going to have a better shot in the Flames’ zone, though. Smith has a 0.88 save percentage and 3.00 GAA on the year. He’s allowed 7 goals in his previous two appearances. The Flames are likely going to want Rittich playing against the Bruins the following day, which will be a more difficult test. It likely isn’t going to matter for the Flames, who should find offence in this game. The moneyline is too steep for me here, though it should be high scoring enough to put this one OVER the total.