The Calgary Flames have folded their hand. As the season winds down to the finale and we enter the playoffs, the Flames have come to the conclusion that the rest of the reason is going to be a wash. With the deal to send defenseman Kris Russell out of town to Dallas, the Flames have indicated they’ve had enough of this season. Remember this is a team that is struggling mightily on the defensive end, so trading one of their better blue liners is nothing more than a move to get out of the game this season, so to speak. It is such a downer for the Flames, a team who broke barriers and exceeded expectations last season and made the playoffs. This season was supposed to be like last season. Instead the Flames flipped the script and went backwards, regressing. The year may have been over for the Flames after Karri Ramo went down, but the Russell deal all but sealed their fate.
The Flames have had to bounce between Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio. Both goaltenders have achieved limited success this season. Hiller and Ortio both hold save percentages below 0.90. Generally speaking, anything below 90 percent consistently, and they shouldn’t have a starting role in the NHL. The defense has been getting torched as a result of the ineptness in net and on defense. It has been tough for the offense to try and make up for the defensive issues, but that is what they have been forced to do. Again, there hasn’t much success for the Flames on any front.
For the Sabres, this is one of those games, as a young team, you have to win to build confidence. You can’t let a lifeless Flames squad come into Buffalo and pick up a win. The Sabres are coming off a loss at home against the Edmonton Oilers, a battle which featured the number 1 draft pick, Connor McDavid, against number 2 Jake Eichel. McDavid won that round easily, picking up a goal and another in overtime to lead the Oilers to a 2-1 win. Tonight they’ll look to avoid three losses in a row, while the Flames will look to avoid yet another loss, it would be their seventh straight loss.
Calgary Flames vs. Buffalo Sabres NHL Pick
It appears that the Flames will be looking to Ortio tonight in Buffalo. Does it really matter at this point if it’s Hiller or Ortio? Ortio holds a 3.34 GAA and 0.889 save percentage with a record of 0-6-2. Conversely, Hiller boasts a 3.33 GAA and 0.885 save percentage. Somebody has to step up but nobody has in any regard. Ortio had a solid outing against the Bruins, holding the Bruins to 1 goal in regulation. This however came after 4 goals allowed against the Senators. I don’t think you can judge him by that one start against the Bruins. The Flames are 29th in the NHL, allowing an average of 3.10 goals per game overall and 3.90 over their last ten games. They do bring in a top 10 offense to this one, their only redeeming feature.
The Sabres’ offense has been stuck in mud lately, scoring only 4 goals over their last four games. They have notched just 1 goal in their last two games. But to me, this looks like a perfect opportunity for them to get out of the mud and get the offense going. Buffalo is 16th in the league with regards to goals against. I feel that the OVER is going to be an excellent bet the rest of the season on the Flames. Anytime I catch a total of 5 on them, it makes me look long and hard at the matchup.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-125)