An impressive win by the Calgary Flames last night, as they delivered a 3-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto last night. In the Leafs’ first game without Auston Matthews in the lineup, the Flames walked in and took advantage of a lackluster offence on the road. It’s been reported that Matthews is likely going to miss up to four weeks of action, so they’re going to have to get used to playing without him. It will hurt without a player of his calibre, but the Leafs still have talent to work around.
They will get it together, albeit it was disheartening to see them play so terribly without Matthews in the lineup. They were coming off an emotional win over the Jets, so maybe that had something to do with it. Kudos to goaltender Mike Smith for putting forth his best effort of the year. He had been struggling, so that’s a nice morale booster for him in the crease.
Smith will get the night off in Buffalo, as the Flames will give the nod to backup David Rittich in net. With Smith struggling this season, the Flames have turned to Rittich more often than they had originally planned. He looked like a starting goaltender across his first three starts, as he got a shutout and allowed 3 goals in total. However, he got hit with some variance in his last two appearances.
Rittich gave up 3 goals to the Canadiens and then 3 goals on just 15 shots to the Penguins in his most recent showing. I would have to say that the verdict is still out on him before we get a better sample size to work with. If Smith falls into form, then that would be the best scenario. I would be cautious of using his game against the Leafs as a barometer going forward, though. Head below for our free Flames vs. Sabres pick.
Calgary Flames vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
It was a scoreless 1st and 2nd period before Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm opened the scoring in the 3rd to make it a 2-0 game. The Flames were the aggressors with 34 shots compared to 25 for the Maple Leafs. They caught Toronto napping and took advantage. The Sabres enter Tuesday night with a record of 6-4-1 and a tough overtime loss against the Blue Jackets in Columbus, 5-4. Nevertheless, they won three games in a row before the loss, so they’ve nabbed a point in each of their last four games.
For a team finally hoping to put a competitive product on the ice this season, it hasn’t been a bad start. Perhaps the best sign as been the offence. They have scored at least 4 goals in their last four games, which would have been a difficult chore for them the last couple of years. Jeff Skinner has proven to be a nice addition to the roster so far. The former Hurricane leads the team in points with 13, followed by Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville.
It was a nice performance for the Flames’ defence last night, but that may have been an outlier for them. They are allowing over 3 goals on average per game, and are catching a hot Sabres’ offence on Tuesday evening. The Sabres have had the last two days off, while the Flames come into Buffalo following a big victory in Toronto.
Expect them to play a little lazy after securing that win over the Leafs. This very well looks like a letdown spot. The Flames haven’t been excited about playing in Buffalo in the past, as their 2-9 record in the last 11 trips there indications. Also, a quirky stat working against the Flames here is that they don’t like to get up against teams with winning records on the road. In their last ten away, they’ve gone 1-9 in that regard. The Sabres recently took care of the Canadiens after they had a big win the night before, and I see the same thing happening to the Flames in Buffalo.