It’s back to regularly scheduled programming, as the NHL returns from the All-Star break on Tuesday night. I don’t care much for All-Star games, so it’s nice to be back to the regular season. Typically, there would have been a much longer break upcoming for the NHL in February. However, the NHL bypassed the Olympics, so there won’t be a two week break in the action.
I would have preferred to see the NHL go to the Olympic Games, just like about everyone else. In any event, it’s going to make for an interesting tournament in South Korea, as countries go to players from other professional leagues. Ben Scrivens made Team Canada, so that’s about all you need to know about the talent on the roster, compared to what could have been. We at least don’t get a lengthy break in the NHL schedule, though.
For the purposes of our Tuesday night NHL pick, we head to Calgary where the Vegas Golden Knights and Flames do battle. Both teams had pleasant surprises in the first-half of the season, but it was the Golden Knights who stole the show. The expansion Golden Knights posted a staggering record of 32-12-2 across the first-half of the season. Just avoiding last place may have been some realistic goals for them at the beginning of the season.
They not only have avoided last place, but they’re 1st in the Western Conference. When they were streaking earlier in the season, I said they’d probably see some harsh regression in the second-half of the year. Here we are now, so we’ll see how things go for them over the next few months. As it is now, they looked primed to reach the postseason and have home ice advantage.
It’s going to be interesting to see what’s in store for them. Meanwhile, the Flames are holding steady at 25-16-3. They’re a team who seems to love to take a year off, and then come back strong the following season. They’ve been playing yo-yo over the last five years or so. The Knights and Flames are playing with house money in the second-half of the season. Head below for our free Golden Knights vs. Flames pick in the NHL.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Calgary Flames Pick
If someone were to tell you that the Golden Knights would be 1st in their conference back in September how would you react? Now if you were to tell them that Marc-Andre Fleury would be gone for a chunk of the first-half as well, they’d wonder what you’re on. That’s what happened, though, as head coach Gerard Gallant has done a tremendous job steering this team. Fleury has come back from his injury in a big way, posting a 1.77 GAA and 0.942 save percentage. Fantastic numbers for a guy who appeared to be almost to the point where his career was nearing its end. He did a ton for the Penguins’ organization, and he’s doing it again for Vegas. The Knights scored an average of 3.38 goals per game, 3rd in the NHL through the first-half of the season.
The Flames were certainly overlooked in the first-half of the season, though. While the Knights stole the show, the Flames were quietly going about their business with an impressive cast of young contributors. The future is looking bright for the Flames. Johnny Gaudreau led the way with 56 points. Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk were key as well. However, the Flames finished the first-half with a thud.
They lost their previous four games, all coming in overtime or a shootout. Vegas took advantage of their home ice, as they went 19-3-1 at the T-Mobile Arena. Conversely, on the road, they were 13-9-1. I like to believe teams won’t take the Golden Knights as lightly now. They should face some regression, but it may not be that far back. As a team, this is the first All-Star break the Knights have had together. I look for them to come out a bit rusty and take a loss out west in Canada on Tuesday night. After dropping four in a row, the Flames will come back focused at home.
PICK: FLAMES (-115)