NHL Hockey: Calgary Flames at Nashville Predators

Very short NHL card for Halloween night with only two games on the hockey betting odds board. We’ll look at the game on the top of the schedule as the Calgary Flames head to the Bridgestone Arena in ‘Music City, USA’ to take on the surging Nashville Predators in Western Conference action. Pending the outcome of the late Wednesday game between Colorado and Florida, the Predators are currently in a three way tie atop the Central Division along with the Avalanche and St. Louis Blues all at 17 points. These three teams are 2 points behind Pacific Division leading Edmonton for the best record in the Western Conference.

Everything went right for the Calgary Flames last year as they surged to the top of the Western Conference standings and stayed their, winning the Conference championship with 107 points. That was 7 better than the Central Division best Predators and 6 better than the second place team in the Pacific Division, the San Jose Sharks. With the caveat that it’s still early, things have changed precipitously for the Flames since then. So far, Calgary has been one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL and particularly away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. Last year, the Flames went 24-15-2 on the road. So far this season, they’re 2-5-1 away from home.

Statistically, the Flames have done one thing right this season–kill penalties. They rank #4 in the league on the kill (86.8%) but their special team success hasn’t carried over to their own man advantage situations with the power play ranked #21 at 17.8%. The Flames have generally struggled to score goals–they’ve got 2.50 per game which is #25 in the league. The defense has been fairly good and the Flames are currently #14 in the goals against per game category. Adding insult to injury is the early returns on the James Deal for Milan Lucic deal with Edmonton. What was initially thought to be a swap of bad contracts has been a complete swindle in favor of Edmonton. Lucic has 3 assists in 13 games for Calgary. All Neal has done is shoot to the top of the NHL’s goal scoring table currently ranking #2 with 11. In the process he set a franchise record for most goals in the first 7 games, previously held by some guy who wore the #99.

Nashville has had a few ugly losses due to inconsistent play at times this year but generally things are going well for the Predators. They’ll enter this game having won 4 straight, 5 of 7 and 7 of 10. They’re tied with Colorado for the team goals per game lead and now that the defense is starting to come around they’ll be particularly nasty. They’re up to #11 in team defense thanks in large part to the recent play of Pekka Rinne in net. Rinne is now #3 in the NHL goals against average leader (1.74) and #3 in save percentage (.937). He’s also tied for second in the ‘most wins’ category with 7. Rinne has yet to lose in regulation this season going 7-0-1.

Although the Predators are capable of laying an egg on any given night, just can’t trust the Flames with their poor road play and sputtering offense. Calgary has not played well in road games against potent offensive teams–in road games with a total of 6+ they’re 0-6 on the season.


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