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NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi offers his prediction for Tuesday's game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames.
ANALYSIS

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames Prediction: Can the Oilers Continue Rolling?

The Battle of Alberta hasn't failed to impress. The Flames took Game 1 in a 9-6 barnburner that harkened back to the high-scoring, '80s era battles between these two teams, but the Oilers responded with two straight wins to take a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 will prove pivotal — if the Oilers were to win and take a 3-1 series lead, it would be exceedingly difficult for the Flames to claw their way back. However, if Calgary grabs this game, it would flip home-ice back to them, turning the series into a best-of-3 with Games 5 and 7 at the Saddledome. With the odds for the game sitting close to a coin toss, let's take a closer look at where the value lies.

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Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames Line Movement

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames Prediction

Any discussion of this series ought to begin with Connor McDavid. After a regular season in which McDavid led the league with 123 points, he has seemingly found another gear in these playoffs, logging 23 points in 10 games. Nine of those points have come in the first three games against the Flames, a point total that somehow undersells the impact he's had. Indeed, he has completely taken over the series — his play-driving is the main reason that the Oilers dominated Games 2 and 3 in terms of expected goals, something that was evident just by watching the games.

Calgary's attempts to limit McDavid's production have been hindered by Chris Tanev's absence from their lineup. Tanev was arguably the Flames' best defensive defenseman during the regular season, and the lack of his steady presence on the back-end has been evident in this series. It is possible that he suits up for Game 4, but this seems unlikely at the moment.

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Many believe that Edmonton's success has been largely a function of special teams. This is not correct, at least recently — their power-play scored just one goal on 11 chances during Games 2 and 3, despite the fact that the unit ranked third in the regular season with a conversion rate of 26%. With the Oilers rolling at even-strength, if they can get their potent PP back up to speed, it will further move the needle in their favor.

A major concern for Calgary has been Jacob Markstrom's subpar play in the series. Through three games, Markstrom has allowed 15 goals on 105 shots for a save percentage of .853. On the other side, Mike Smith has been surprisingly good — he has a .916 in the series, and currently leads all goaltenders with 10.5 goals saved above expected in the playoffs. Goaltenders are notoriously streaky, meaning that it is difficult to determine exactly when Markstrom will snap out of his slump (if at all). Until proven otherwise, Edmonton will likely retain their edge in goal.

The Flames were favored headed into this series, and for good reason. They were among the league's best even-strength teams during the regular season, and seemed to have a much deeper lineup than the Oilers. However, with Edmonton riding a historical start to the playoffs from McDavid, it's hard to bet against them. The fact that this game is in Edmonton only adds to the value on their side. Given the respective form of the two sides along with all of the factors mentioned above, I think that the Oilers should be favored by a greater margin in this spot.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames Pick

Article Author

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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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