We’re nearing crunch time for the Calgary Flames, as they take their four-game losing streak to Buffalo. The Flames are alive, but will have some catching up to do down the stretch. They’re currently 3 points behind the Kings with 74 points. That doesn’t look like much, but keep in mind the Flames are neck-and-neck with a couple of other teams who are just sitting outside of the playoffs, too. The Blues are ahead of the Flames with 75 points and the Avalanche own 77 points, tied with the Kings.
There’s usually a team who is trying to catch a wildcard get hot this time of the year. Playing mediocre hockey down by 3 points isn’t going to get the job done for the Flames here. In other words, it’s imperative they beat teams with losing records. Losing the games that shouldn’t have been lost cast a large shadow when there’s only a few days left in the regular season.
The Flames have been making it difficult on themselves lately. Note that they’ve lost four in a row, picking up just 1 point along the way. They took a 4-3 overtime loss against the Penguins in their last outing. Additionally, the Flames have won just two of their last nine games. This isn’t the time to go on a skid, as they go on a tight race for the playoffs. The Flames have been a streaky team this year, no doubt about it.
If the hockey gods are friendly, they’d be due for a reversal and hot run to finish up the regular season. Losing to the Sabres would not be the best of looks, though. Buffalo are on the heels of a big victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite a record of 21-34-10, they’ve been fighting hard lately. It doesn’t help them out for their positioning in the draft, but at least they’re showing some life. The Sabres have won four of their last six games, which included wins over good teams, the Bruins, Lightning, and Leafs. Head below for our free Flames vs. Sabres pick.
Calgary Flames vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
We’re a month away from the conclusion of the Flames’ season. Still plenty of time to mount a strong surge forward to the playoffs. More than anything, the Flames need to find some confidence. Win a couple of games in a row and then go from there. The loss of goaltender Mike Smith certainly hurts, but they really need to get over it at this point. Calgary have lost nine of their last eleven since Smith went down with injury. David Rittich of the Czech Republic has posted a 3.11 GAA and 0.90 save percentage in place of Smith. Like I said, this team needs to find a way to get the confidence back again.
The Flames haven’t liked playing at home too much. Their record on the road of 18-10-2, easily surpasses the mark of 14-15-3 in Calgary. The Saddledome is in need of some renovations, and it apparently has been a fun workplace for the Flames to go and play at. The Sabres are coming off a 5-3 win of the Leafs, but goaltender, Chad Johnson, saved the day there. The Maple Leafs peppered Johnson with 41 shots, while the Sabres managed 24 on net. Johnson has been playing well for the Sabres, allowing just 2 goals in total against the Bruins and Lightning, and then helping out in the win against the Leafs.
After a big win against Toronto, could we see a letdown spot from the Sabres? I can see the Flames putting forth a much better effort than what we’ve seen from them lately. Conversely, the Sabres may put it on cruise control after a hard fought win against a rival. They should be focused on not losing to a 21 win Sabres team tonight. If the Flames can’t get more motivated to play than the Sabres tonight, they don’t belong in the playoffs. It’s not a hefty wager by any means, but I expect a better effort and win out of the Flames in Buffalo.
PICK: FLAMES (-140)