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The Colorado Avalanche will travel to Calgary to face the Flames on Tuesday night. NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi offers his prediction for the game.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames Prediction: Favor the Flames

With the trade deadline firmly in the rearview mirror, the NHL is entering the home stretch leading up to the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference, the eight playoff teams are all but decided. The West is far less concrete; only Colorado, Calgary, and perhaps Minnesota have locked down playoff berths. Two of those teams—the Avalanche and the Flames—will face off on Tuesday night, the third and final regular-season meeting between them. They are head-and-shoulders above any of the other teams in the conference—this game is a potential Western Conference final preview. Here is my best bet for the game.

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The Avalanche (46-14-6) come into this game with a league-leading 98 points. They are the current favorites to win the President's trophy, the Western Conference, and the Stanley Cup. They've won five of their last seven, including a 3-0 win against the Flames. However, Calgary played them evenly in that game despite being on the second leg of a back-to-back. That game was in Colorado; this one is on the road, where the Avs are 3-3-1 over the last month.

The Flames (40-17-8) have run away with the Pacific Division, leading the second-place Kings by seven points with two games in hand. Calgary has won four of their last six and blew out Edmonton on Saturday by a score of 9-5. This will be the fourth game of a six-game homestand for the Flames; they are 21-6-6 at home this season. They'll look to solidify their status as a legitimate cup contender by knocking off the top team in the standings.

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At even strength, no team has been more dominant than Calgary. They have the NHL's best 5v5 expected goals share at 56.34%, while Colorado trails in eighth with a share of 53.06%. It's also worth noting that the Flames have maintained a consistent pace of expected goals margins throughout the season due to their stellar coaching and replicable system. On the other hand, the Avs have stagnated at even strength since the end of February, treading water rather than consistently out chancing their opponents.

Based on the numbers, the Flames also have an advantage on special teams. Both teams have excellent power plays; the Avs' unit ranks sixth with a conversion rate of 24.9%, while the Flames' PP sits in eighth with a scoring rate of 23.9%. However, Calgary also has the league's fourth-best penalty kill, one that has killed off 84.5% of their penalties. Colorado's PK, meanwhile, is below average—it ranks 18th with a kill rate of just 78.3%. If the Avs get into penalty trouble, it could create an opportunity that the Flames can exploit.

Goaltending is one factor that leans in Colorado's favor. If this game was taking place two months ago, it would have been the other way around. However, Darcy Kuemper has been on fire of late, shooting up to fifth in the GSAx rankings. His play has been one of the main reasons that the Avs' slight dip in chance generation and prevention has largely flown under the radar. They'll need to lean on him here against a premier opponent.

Overall, these are two great teams. In a seven-game series, it would be difficult to predict who would come out on top. That being said, this is one game. The fact that it is in Calgary favors the Flames, who are already a bit underrated by the market. They are also healthier—their full lineup is expected to play, while the Avalanche will be missing Gabriel Landeskog, Samuel Girard, and Bowen Byram, among others. There are almost no circumstances where I'm willing to fade Colorado at plus-money, but this is one of them. Bet the Flames down to -120 on the moneyline.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames Pick

Pick: Flames ML (-110) (Bet $110 to Win $100)

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Article Author


Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.


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