The Calgary Flames are probably about as deep into minus money as they will get in these playoffs since the road will get tougher if they advance, but the upshot for bettors is that they seldom play down to the competition when heavily favoured.
The Flames are a -230 home favourite (bet $230 to win $100) with the Colorado Avalanche a +190 away underdog (bet $100 to win $190) on the NHL betting lines for Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, while there is a 5.5-goal total.
Calgary has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NHL first-round playoff series and it is 13-4 this season as a moneyline favourite of -200 or more. Eleven of their wins in that sample were by two or more goals. The Avalanche are 3-4 this season as an away underdog of +150 or more, and the OddsShark NHL Database states that they haven’t been this heavy of an underdog since the 2018 playoffs.
On Thursday, Calgary lived up to its billing as the top seed in the Western Conference half of the playoff bracket with a 4-0 win against the Avalanche in Game 1. Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane also tallied and Mike Smith had a 26-save shutout. Nathan MacKinnon had a team-high five shots for the Avalanche.
The result extended UNDER trends for both teams, as the total has gone UNDER in five of Calgary’s last eight games as a favourite of -200 or more. It has also gone UNDER in nine of Colorado’s last 11 games as an away underdog. Until such time that Colorado can prove that it can break down defenseman Mark Giordano and the rest of the Flames’ back end, it seems best to stick with the UNDER.
The shutout gave Mike Smith a 5-5-0 record with a 1.93 goals-against average and .916 save percentage since March 1. His Colorado counterpart, Philipp Grubauer, is pretty much the reason the Avalanche are in the playoffs. He kept his team in striking distance during the opener and is 8-3-2 with a 1.66 GAA and .949 save percentage since March 1. Smith’s rate stats are much more sustainable in the long run.
Based on recent performance, the Flames rate the edge on special teams, with a 35.0- percent power play and 88.89-percent penalty kill during their past 10 games. The Avalanche have cashed in only 11.11 percent of their power plays while defending only 65.0 percent of their penalty kills in their past 10 games.
Following Saturday’s game, the series shifts to Denver as the Avalanche will host games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.