The Flames have been a pleasant surprise to start the regular season, compiling 21 points through their first 19 game of the regular season, despite sporting a -10 goal differential. Currently tied for seventh place in the Western Conference standings, Calgary will have its work cut out for them if they want to get back to the postseason. Meanwhile, the Oilers are right on their heels in the Pacific Division with 19 points through 18 games this year.
Tinkering with top line yields instant results for Flames
The Oilers snapped a four-game slide with an impressive 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Head coach Todd McLellan tinkered with his top line for Tuesday’s game and it paid immediate dividends, as Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists to help propel the Oilers to their first win in over a week. Reunited with Connor McDavid on Edmonton’s top line, Draisaitl and the top line generated plenty of high-octane scoring chances, giving the Oilers plenty to feel good about ahead of their trip to Calgary. Mikko Koskinen made 27 saves on the night to help Edmonton creep back over the .500-mark with the win.
.@cmcdavid97 had one of the best games of any player all season on Tuesday night. What? @MikeKellyNHL provides a statistical breakdown of the @EdmontonOilers captain's play. #NHLNow pic.twitter.com/itclbbX9mm
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 16, 2018
Starting goaltender Cam Talbot is scheduled to return for the crease for the Oilers on Saturday night. He carries in a 5-7-1 overall record to go along with a 3.09 GAA and a .895 save percentage through 13 starts this year. He enters riding a personal four-game losing streak and has allowed at least three goals in each of those four starts. Talbot made four starts against the Flames last season, going 2-2 with a 3.26 GAA and an .893 save percentage versus their rivals from Alberta, Canada.
Tkachuk making leap in third season for Flames
The Flames lost for the third time in four games on Thursday night, falling at home to the Montreal Canadiens by the score of 3-2. Calgary outplayed Montreal all night long, peppering Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price with 45 shots on the night, but Price made several highlight reel saves to keep the Flames off of the board. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice in the second period to give Calgary a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, but Montreal scored twice in the final period to steal two points on the road.
Perhaps more concerning for Calgary has been the play of goaltender Mike Smith, who stopped just 19 of 22 shots to fall to 5-7-1 with a paltry .876 save percentage so far this season. That mark ranks 49th out of 50 goaltenders who have played at least six games this season and the veteran allowed a pair of bad goals in the loss to Montreal. The Canadiens opened the scoring eight minutes into the first period with a shaky goal that deflected off of Smith’s upper body and into the net, marking the 10th time in 13 starts that Smith has allowed a goal on one of the first six shots of the game. Smith is expected to start for the Flames on Saturday.
Tkachuk has been an absolute revelation for the Flames this season after compiling 48 and 49 points in his first two NHL seasons. The 20-year-old winger leads the team in goals (9) and points (21) so far this year. He is currently on pace for 91 points and 39 goals.
Matthew Tkachuk is a really great player. pic.twitter.com/okHnIrSBwb
— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) November 3, 2017
Calgary enters the weekend averaging 3.05 goals per game (18th in the NHL) and allowing 3.05 goals per game (15th in the NHL) so far this year. They also rank in the middle of the pack on special teams, where they have converted 18.5 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage (18th in the NHL) and killed off 77 percent of their penalties (22nd in the NHL) through 19 games this year.
- Oilers are 21-47 in their last 68 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Oilers are 2-6 in their last 8 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Oilers are 1-4 in their last 5 overall.
- Oilers are 5-0 in their last 5 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Oilers are 5-2 in their last 7 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Oilers are 7-3 in their last 10 Saturday games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Oilers have dominated this series as of late, winning seven of their last nine meetings against the Flames, however, they have just won 8 of their past 25 meetings in Calgary. Smith has been struggling mightily for the Flames this season and he’s allowed a goal on the first six shots of the game in 10 of his 14 starts. That means the Flames have been forced to play from behind the majority of the team while he’s been in net. Edmonton just snapped a four-game slide, so they should come into this game with some added confidence. Look for the Oilers to keep their momentum going and take Edmonton to come away with a win on the road against Calgary on Saturday night.
Prediction: Pick: Edmonton Oilers
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have gone over the projected total in seven of their last nine meetings and the Flames have gone over in eight of their last nine home games. Both goaltenders enter this game struggling in a big way. Talbot has lost four consecutive starts, while Smith has lost three straight starts so far this season. Look for this game to go over the projected total in Calgary on Saturday, especially if these two struggling goaltenders are confirmed as the starters.