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NHL Free Pick: Flames vs. Coyotes Betting Odds & Handicapping Preview

NHL: Calgary vs Arizona Pick

Western Conference and Pacific Division foes will meet in the second half of Hockey Night in Canada Saturday when the Calgary Flames (14-8-2) take on the Arizona Coyotes (9-11-3).  Cappers Picks will provide free NHL picks all season so check back in often.

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Calgary vs Arizona
When: Saturday, Nov 29 2014 at 10:00 pm ET
Where: Gila River Arena
TV: CBC
NHL ATS Gambling Line: Calgary +100 / Arizona -110
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Oh would you look at that, the Arizona Coyotes will be featured on Hockey Night in Canada in a home game. Scheduling played a big part in this one being broadcast nationally as the rest of the western Canadian teams (Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg) have the night off and the Canadian teams in the Eastern time zone are all playing at their usual 7 p.m. start time.

These two will meet for the second time in just over two weeks, with the Flames holding the edge in the season series by a game to none.

Flames

Calgary has been one of the more surprising teams in not only the Western Conference but the entire NHL so far this season.  With a quarter of the season under their belt, the Flames sit third in the very tough Pacific Division, just one point out of second behind the Canucks.

The young Flames have been an exciting team to watch and have been earning the moniker of “comeback kids” winning five times already this season in games which they trailed in the third period. That’s all well and good and points to the team’s character, but this style of play is just not sustainable in the long run and Calgary will need to buckle down and stop playing from behind if they’re going to hang around in the top three in the Pacific.

Scoring from the back end has been another Godsend for the Flames that may not be sustainable over a full 82 game season.

Defenseman Mark Giordano leads the team with 24 points and his blue line partner T.J. Brodie is tied for second on the team with 20 points. Brodie, Giordano and another d-man Dennis Wideman have combined to score 19 goals already this season in just 24 games. At that rate the three are on pace to tally 64 goals this season, ever seen a team with three 20-goal scorers on the blue line?

Didn’t think so.

Goaltending has been excellent for the Flames as they have what head coach Bob Hartley has called “two starting goalies” in Jonas Hiller and Reto Berra, both of whom have GAA’s under 2.55 and SV% better than .910.

Coyotes

The Coyotes changed their title from Phoenix to Arizona this past off-season, but that’s about the only change with the team. New name, about the same results.
Phoen…err, Arizona finished ninth in the West last year, just two points out of a playoff position, but that can be largely attributed a weaker conference a year ago where Nashville and Vancouver struggled, and Calgary was still building towards what they’re doing this year.

Arizona sits in 12th in the West right now, a little win streak could bump them up to 9th or 10th, but that looks to be about the ceiling for this team this year. There just isn’t really enough talent for this team to match up with most of the teams in the West. They are led by an aging Shane Doan who just turned 38 at the start of the season, and Antoine Vermette who is 32.

The back end of this team has a few standouts, and I won’t knock Keith Yandle (who is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league) but I will knock Oliver Ekman Larsson who looked like he was ready to break out with a solid 44 point season last year, but his production has dropped off a bit and his +/- is second worst in the NHL at -15.

Mike Smith seems to be a shadow of the goalie who used to keep this team in games night in and night out, but right now he’s being outplayed by Devan Dubnyk. Smith has posted a gaudy 3.24 GAA so far this year and is .893 SV% isn’t much to celebrate either.

Flames vs. Coyotes 4* Free Pick

There’s a big gap between the two in the standings, but this game will be closer than you might first think. In the past six games, no team has won twice in a row and they have traded wins going back to last season.

The Flames won the first meeting this year, so if history repeats it’s the Coyotes’ turn to win.

Go with Arizona to win this one.

If not for that reason alone, I like Arizona as the Flames have been on the road since Tuesday and may be a bit sluggish.

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About Matt Durnan

A (self-proclaimed) fantasy sports guru since 2004 and a journalist since 2007. He has been offering unsolicited sports gambling advice to his circle of friends for years and has now put himself at the mercy of online readers everywhere. "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how much fun you have"... His hockey coach told him that when he was 7. His team lost every game that year.


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