Winnipeg (37-28-6) vs Calgary (36-27-7)
Opening Odds: Calgary -120
The NHL season is getting closer to reality as the league is close to making a decision on the hub cities. There won’t be any fans to start the playoffs and that’s a shame when the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames get together. They have two of the craziest atmospheres in hockey with the Jets white-out and the Flames red-out. These teams only met once prior to the Covid-19 shutdown and that was at the Heritage Classic in Regina where the Jets scored a 2-1 overtime win on October 26. The two Western Canadian rivals were set to meet twice in March to conclude their three-game head to head series.
Calgary and Winnipeg have split each of their last eight meetings since March of 2017, while six of those have gone under the total. The Flames open as slight -120 favorites heading into this series on the Bovada Sportsbook odds board.
The Jets will be the No. 9 seed from a group of 12 Western Conference teams and started getting hot by winning their last four games prior to the shutdown. Hot goaltending can carry a team far in the postseason and the Jets have just that in Vezina Trophy candidate Connor Hellebuyck. He was 31-21-5 with a save percentage of .922 playing behind a team that was injury-plagued on the blueline. The Jets had 13 different defensemen on the roster this season. Winnipeg was in the middle of the pack in offense, averaging 3.0 goals per game behind leading scorers Kyle Conner (38 goals, 35 assists) and Mark Scheifele (29 goals, 44 assists).
Best-of-Five Series Price:
The Flames also ended the regular season with momentum, going 6-3-1 over their last 10 contests and have an explosive offense at times. Their top five scorers all recorded at least 45 points led by All-Star Matthew Tkachuk (61 points), while Elias Lindholm was the Flames’ top goal scorer with 29. While the Jets are solid in net, the Flames have issues. David Rittich played most of the games this season, but his .907 save percentage didn’t even rank him in the top 20 and he’ll be making his postseason debut. Backup Cam Talbot was 12-11-2 with a 2.63 GAA.
The Jets have their issues, but this series will be about goaltending. Winnipeg has the advantage there with Hellebuyck and a good enough offense to give Calgary fits.
Pick: Jets +100