Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Calgary +118 over Ottawa
7:07 PM EST. OT included. We backed the Flames last night in Smogtown. as they dropped a shootout decision to the Maple Leafs, but we are not going to be deterred from applying a wagering strategy here we call "sticking with it." The premise is simple; if we saw value in the Flames last night in Toronto as an underdog, how can we not see value in Calgary in a similar role tonight?
The Flames are much better than their record shows, but goaltending has been an issue. If Calgary had Juuse Saros or Connor Hellebuyk, we'd be talking about a truly legit Stanley Cup contender. Yes, Vegas showed that one can ride a hot hand or two and pull off a miracle, but that is the exception and not the rule. The Flames are tied to the huge contract they gave starter Jacob Markstrom, which still has two seasons on it after this one at $6 million per.
In the salary cap era, cash like that will not be spent on a backup goalie, but at the moment, Markstrom is on the injured list with an upper-body injury, so the Flames called up prized prospect Dustin Wolf, who will get his second taste of the NHL after starting one game last season. While it was only one game, Wolf did not look out of place, and he was solid in picking up the win. Over the last two seasons, Wolf has been the best goaltender in the AHL, playing for the Wranglers. This year in six stats with the Wranglers, Wolf sports a solid 2.34 goals against average and a tidy .924 save percentage. Last season, Wolf allowed just 2.09 GAA and a .932 save percentage. If the dude didn't have the backlog of goaltenders in front of him, he would be in the show already.
Wolf isn't the only young Flame getting a look, as an infusion of youth and vigor has come from a pair of rookies recently called up from the Wranglers, as Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil, who both scored goals in Toronto, have provided a hell of a spark. Furthermore, Zary has found his name on the scoresheet in all four of his NHL games, posting two goals and two helpers. Meanwhile, Pospisil has potted two goals in his three games with the big club.
The expectations that the Senators would be taking a step forward this season have weighed heavily on Ottawa, as it sits last in the Eastern Conference after the first month. We're not going to pore over the plight of the Sens thus far because this is more of a situational play than anything else, as we catch Ottawa in its final game before heading to Europe for the NHL's Global Series next week, where the Senators will play Minnesota and Detroit in Sweden. That impending travel has to be both exciting and a distraction, and the last thing the Sens need right now are unnecessary distractions.
Calgary +118 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.36)