We notched a 2-1 night our last time out on Thursday before taking Friday’s two-game schedule off due to a lack of value in those contests.
The lone loss of the night on Thursday came when Dante Fabbro sifted a wrister through some bodies with less than a minute left in a tie game, scoring the winner and escaping a tight one with the heavily underdogged Red Wings in the process.
That said, we did catch one of our few breaks of the season when Evgeni Malkin powdered home a clapper from distance to tie the game against the Islanders with just 18 seconds left. After a scoreless OT, Sidney Crosby undressed Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov in the shootout to send the Pens to a 4-3 moneyline win.
Finally, we had the Hurricanes on the moneyline in Dallas, and of course, it was another close one late. With a 3-3 score heading into the third, the ‘Canes bagged an early go-ahead marker and added a last-minute empty-better to take care of the Stars by a 5-3 final.
The 2-1 night netted us a one-unit profit as we look forward to our Flames vs. Canucks NHL pick tonight from Vancouver!
- Season Record: 13-18
- Units: -5.63
Flames vs. Canucks Betting Odds
- Flames (-131)
- Canucks (+119)
- Flames -1.5 (+175)
- Canucks +1.5 (-205)
- Over 6 (+102)
- Under 6 (-113)
Flames vs. Canucks NHL Pick Breakdown
The Flames battled inconsistency on offense for much of last season before a fast finish, but their offense this season as been mediocre at best.
They’ll enter tonight’s rematch in Vancouver sporting an offense that’s tied for 18th league wide while their power play has fared well with a 23.1% clip, good for 13th in the league.
That said, the underlying metrics are far more optimistic about the Flames’ offensive attack this season.
At 5v5, the Flames rank fourth in scoring chances for/60, seventh in high-danger chances for/60 and sixth in expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. While those rankings certainly bode well, their 2.45 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is a hair above their 2.37 expected mark, so at the end of the day the Flames are producing offense at a rate they more or less have deserved to this point.
Additionally, their PDO of 1.02 tells us they’ve actually been on the fortunate side of the offensive spectrum so far this season.
The team’s big boys have done their job to this point in the season, but the Flames will look for more offense from their bottom-six moving forward.
The Flames’ back end saw some notable turnover in the offseason, most notably losing T.J. Brodie to the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency, but adding a stout defender in former Canuck Chris Tanev to place back into their top four.
The results so far have been real good as the Flames have cracked the top 10 while allowing 2.62 goals per game on the season while their penalty kill has been fine at 80.4%, good for 17th league wide.
It also appears their top-10 defense has been well-earned this season. At 5v5, the Flames rank 11th in scoring chances against/60, 12th in high-danger chances against/60 and ninth in expected goals against/60. Their 1.84 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is pretty much in line with their 1.94 expected mark, so this has indeed been a strong Flames back end to this point in 2021.
It’s currently a healthy group as it’s been all season long. While we noted the very good top-four, the bottom pair of Juuso Valimaki combined with the NHL return of Nikita Nesterov has performed quite well. Both players sport Corsi For percentages on the right side of the 50% mark and you have to believe the Flames’ brass is happy with how that duo has performed so far this season while it would appear the Noah Hanifin/Tanev second pairing has been their best to this point in the season.
Of course, both myself and plenty of hockey outlets around the sport have documented the Flames signing Jacob Markstrom away from these Canucks on the heels of a career-year for the big, Swedish netminder.
It’s largely been Markstrom’s crease to this point as he’s made 11 of the team’s 13 starts, and again, the Flames’ front office has to be satisfied with their investment in their new No. 1 as he’s worked to a stellar 2.36 GAA and .921 Sv% on the season, going 7-3-1 in the process.
That said, we don’t have any confirmed starters for this one, so I suppose it’s possible that David Rittich makes just his third start of the season, although the first two have not gone to plan.
Should he surprisingly get the nod, Rittich would carry a 3.56 GAA and .857 Sv% into tonight’s action while dropping each of those contests to the Canadiens and most recently, the Jets.
Given the Flames’ need to climb the North Division standings and the optics of the matchup with his former employer, I’d be shocked if Markstrom doesn’t get the nod for the 12th time in 14 games this season.
The Canucks’ offense surprised to the upside a season ago as they finished eighth overall but also put forth the league’s fifth-ranked power play at 24.2%. This time around, it hasn’t quite been the same story.
The home side will enter this one sporting the NHL’s 15th-ranked offense while averaging 2.94 goals per game while the power play has yet to gain any consistent production with a 16.1% clip that pegs them at 21st in the league.
Much of the early-season woes were placed on the struggles of star pivot Elias Pettersson, but the Swede has been nearly a point-per-game player over his last 11 while the top line trio is the least of this team’s concerns. The underlying metrics are strong as well.
At 5v5, the Canucks rank 10th in scoring chances for/60, 11th in high-danger chances for/60 and eighth in expected goals for/60. While those are real nice rankings, the fact is that this Canucks offense has scored 2.84 goals/60 at 5v5 this season while Natural Stat Trick has them pegged with 2.33 expected goals/60, so maybe this teams has actually generated more even-strength offense than they have earned.
Still, it’s the power play that I think will get going. Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes and captain Bo Horvat form a highly-skilled top power play unit and it’s one that I am nearly certain will crack with 20% plateau when it’s all said and done.
The team’s most glaring issue is most definitely on the back end. Say what you want about their goaltending (more on that in a minute) but the new-look blueline has been exposed in a big way this season.
Here’s a case where the surface and underlying defense stats pretty much add up.
The Canucks rank 30th in overall defense while allowing 3.88 goals per game despite a penalty kill that’s actually been solid at 81.4%, good for a share of 11th league wide alongside the Washington Capitals.
While they also rank 30th with 34.2 shots against per game on the season, the advanced data is strongly concerning. At 5v5, the Canucks rank dead last in scoring chances against/60, 30th in high-danger chances against/60 and again dead last in expected goals against/60.
Want some light at the end of the tunnel, Canucks fans? Their 3.70 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is astronomically above their 2.73 mark, so it’s nearly guaranteed their defensive results will improve moving forward. I’ll eat my own hat if it doesn’t (don’t hold me to that).
It was just a confusing offseason from general manager Jim Benning. He lets both Markstrom and Tanev walk and attempts to replace them with Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt and Travis Hamonic. Honestly, he put head coach Travis Green is a wildly difficult spot coming off a playoff year in which the Canucks were just one win away from the Western Conference Final.
I hate to say I told you so…
The defense has been so bad that it’s difficult to blame either Holtby or Thatcher Demko for the team’s lackluster results defensively, but neither have been any good this season.
We don’t have a confirmed Canucks goaltender as of yet either, but if it’s Holtby he’ll carry a 3.75 GAA and .885 Sv% into this one.
If not, it’s Demko and his 3.74 GAA and .896 Sv%. The timeshare has been as close to even as it gets as Demko has made nine starts with Holtby starting eight games so far this season.
At this point, it really doesn’t matter until this Canucks back end improves in some regard.
Flames vs. Canucks NHL Pick
I just ragged on the Canucks pretty hard there, but I’m not surprised one bit about the back end’s struggles so far given the curious offseason decisions by the man in charge.
However, this group has been far better over their last two games, and honestly, it was always going to take some time for the blueline to gel as there are so many fresh faces in that group.
They deserved a win in Toronto before a late goal was scored two games back while a fluky goal that bounced off two Canucks defenders was a big reason why they dropped another 3-1 affair to these Flames two nights back.
After dropping back-to-back 3-1 games not to mention six in a row, I actually see value in the Canucks here as home underdogs.
Their offense is really good and stacks up quite well with the Flames. I’ll certainly agree that the Flames hold the advantage in the defense and goaltending department, but it’s time for his Canucks to win a game after a couple of strong efforts over their last two.
They’ll come in having lost all three of their games against the Flames this season, but I’ll grab the home side here as it looks like the back end is at least making progress after an ugly stretch.