by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
It has been almost two weeks since the NHL suspended play due to the COVID-19 outbreak now gripping North America, and there is no end in sight. NHL players have been directed to remain in self-isolation until at least March 27, as news breaks of at least two players testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
Calgary entered the shutdown perched squarely on the playoff bubble. The Flames sat alone in third place in the Pacific Division when the league elected to suspend play on March 12, just one point up on the Vancouver Canucks, who hold a game in hand. The club also lags a point behind the Winnipeg Jets, who remain in control of the top wild card in the Western Conference.
While the Flames remain well back of the favorites as a +3300 bet on the Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, there is a silver lining to the current shutdown. The break offers a battered Flames blue line corps time to recover from injuries, most notably to Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic, who remained on the shelf as NHL arenas went dark.
A healthy defense would provide a big boost to the team, which has surrendered 3.06 goals per game, and whose spotty offense has left them sporting a minus-5 goal differential on the season. But with other NHL teams also taking the downtime to address injuries, the imminent return of Hanifin and Hamonic has provided the Flames with no bounce on the NHL odds.
And, if the NHL elects to jump right into the playoffs upon a return to play, and alter the playoff format, the betting prospects for the Flames could take a hit. For example, if playoff seeding is based on points percentage, the Flames would tumble into fourth place in the Pacific Division.
That would drop Calgary into the Western Conference’s second wild card, and set the stage for a first-round matchup with the St. Louis Blues. Under such circumstances, it is realistic to expect the Flames’ Stanley Cup odds to slip further from an already precarious position.
Conversely, the Blues remain perched among the Stanley Cup favorites at online sports betting sites, joining the Philadelphia Flyers at +900. The Boston Bruins, who entered the shutdown with an NHL-leading 100 points, continue to lead the way as +600 chalk, just ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights at +700, and the Colorado Avalanche at +800.
Further down the NHL futures, the rival Edmonton Oilers remain steady at +2200 odds, just behind the +2000 Nashville Predators, while the Canucks edge the Flames at +2800 odds.