Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames
When and Where: Saturday, Dec. 29, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta, 10:05 p.m. EST.
A pair of Pacific Division rivals playing some solid hockey of late look to continue their runs at the expense of the other Saturday night when the Calgary Flames host the Vancouver Canucks.
Canucks hope to have Baertschi and Stecher available
Vancouver (18-18-4) is playing some of its best hockey of the season and improved to 7-2-1 in its last 10 games overall after disposing of Edmonton 4-2 on the road Thursday night.
Elias Pettersson and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist in a four-goal first period for the Canucks, and Jacob Markstrom made that lead stand by making 20 of his 30 saves over the final two periods. Pettersson, whose 18 goals lead all NHL rookies by a wide margin, has five goals and 10 assists during Vancouver’s 10-game surge.
In his 34th game of 2018-19 (and of his career), Elias Petterson's 1G-1A effort for the @Canucks puts him at 38 points & 5th on this list with some amazing centre ice stars going back 30 seasons pic.twitter.com/LsF8rFCKaK
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) December 28, 2018
The Canucks could also be getting some key personnel back as they try to climb the Pacific Division standings. Sven Baertschi, who has missed the last 30 games due to a concussion, was practicing on the third line Friday and Vancouver’s top power-play unit. Defenseman Troy Stecher could return after missing the previous three games for the same reason.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 28, 2018
Markstrom is expected to be between the pipes once more for Vancouver as he looks for an eighth win in nine starts. He has posted a 1.63 goals-against average and .943 save percentage during his stellar run and has not yielded more than two goals in any of his last seven appearances.
Markstrom split two decisions against Calgary earlier this season when the teams began play with a home-and-home series, allowing five goals on 35 shots in a 7-4 road loss. He is 3-6-0 with a 3.72 GAA lifetime versus the Flames and 1-4-0 with a 3.85 GAA in five starts at the Saddledome.
Flames look to crack 50-point mark
Calgary (23-12-3) continues to lead the Pacific Division and is coming off a 4-1 victory at Winnipeg on Thursday night. Johnny Gaudreau continued his torrid offensive run with a hat trick, and David Rittich extended his stretch of solid goaltending with a 35-save effort.
Johnny Hockey wasn't messing around tonight.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 28, 2018
Gaudreau, who is second on the team with 19 goals and has a team-best 51 points, has recorded eight multipoint games in his last 12 contests. He has totaled nine goals and 13 assists in helping the Flames go 8-3-1 in that stretch.
“It’s a good stepping stone for us,” said Gaudreau to the Flames’ official website. “That’s a real good team. Ritter played out of his mind tonight. He made some big saves and kept us in that game. It could have easily have been 2-2, 3-2 there going into the third. He played unbelievable and got us that win.”
Sean Monahan, who assisted on all three of Gaudreau’s goals, notched two goals and an assist in the first two games against Vancouver this season. Gaudreau has a goal and three assists.
Rittich, who is expected to get the nod in this game, has held opponents to two or fewer goals in six of his last seven appearances. During that run, he is 4-2-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .939 save percentage, and two of those losses came with Calgary getting shut out.
He did not face Vancouver in the home-and-home earlier this season but beat the Canucks in his only career outing against them, turning aside 16 shots in a 6-1 road win last season.
The Flames are:
- 5-1 in their last six games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 6-1 in their last seven home games vs. the Canucks.
- 7-3 in their last 10 home games.
- The over is 6-0 in their last six games vs. the Canucks.
- The over is 14-4-1 in their last 19 home games.
- The over is 9-3 in their last 12 games after allowing two or fewer goals in the previous game.
The Canucks are:
- 4-9 in their last 13 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 17-39 in their last 56 games vs. Pacific Division teams.
- The road team is 3-10 in the last 13 games between the teams.
- The over is 6-2-1 in its last nine road games.
- The over is 18-5-4 in its last 27 road games vs. the Flames.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Canucks are the better team at the moment as Calgary’s win Thursday night snapped a three-game winless streak, but stealing a road victory like the Flames did at Winnipeg can prove to be a jump-starter to strengthen their hold on the Pacific Division.
Prediction: Pick: Flames -200
Full-Game Total Pick
Every game between the teams since the start of last season has featured six or more goals, and only once has there been six. Both power-play units have been effective, combining for 13 goals in 57 chances, and there were five goals coming on the man advantage in the most recent matchup in Calgary in early October.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 6 goals
Full-Game Prop Bet
Though the pattern of Calgary’s game is to follow up a performance of four or more goals with two or less in the last five such occasions, the momentum from stealing a win at Winnipeg coupled with Gaudreau’s recent play makes the Flames a good play to light the lamp at least four times at home.
Prediction: Pick: Flames OVER 3.5 goals
Half-Time Side Pick
Half-Time Total Bet
The teams have scored two or more goals in the opening period of seven of the last eight games played at Calgary, and were 2-2 after 20 minutes in the October matchup at the Saddledome. The Flames have also scored six goals in the first period of their last four games, adding to the possibility of a wide-open affair in this one.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 1.5 goals
Half-Time Prop Prediction
With no option for a draw in North America, the pick is the home team to have a lead after 20 minutes. Rittich did well to steal a win Thursday night in Winnipeg, and if he is able to carry that early into this contest, Calgary should have a lead after 20 minutes.
Prediction: Pick: Flames -0.5 goals (+140)