Ahead of the game: Calgary Flames at Florida Panthers

Oct 16, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) skates on the ice during the third period against the New York Islanders at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Two games and two wins into things after emerging from COVID protocol, the Calgary Flames are in Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers.

It’s been successful, albeit bumpy, ride for the Calgary Flames since their 19-day COVID-mandated time off.  The team has won their first two games since the break beating the Seattle Kraken 6-4, in a rodeo of a game, and the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1.  Neither opponent appears positioned well for the playoffs.  But their opponent on Tuesday, the Florida Panthers, certainly does.

Florida sits 5th in Eastern Conference and 2nd in the Atlantic Division.  Like the Flames, they are coming off 2 very decisive wins against the Montreal Canadiens and (an admittedly goalie-depleted) Tampa Bay Lightning.

Matchup
Calgary Flames
17-7-6
Florida Panthers
21-7-4
Tuesday, Jan 4th
7:00pm ET
Rogers Sportsnet West
Panthers 1.68

Give the edge to Calgary Flames in the personnel department.  They have no significant injuries and nobody is in COVID protocol.  Florida, on the other hand, will have lost point producers Sam Reinhart and Mason Marchment to a COVID vacation.  And most disappointingly to Flames fans, Sam Bennett will be sitting out the first of a three-game suspension earned Saturday against Montreal.  Bennett has not faced the Flames since being traded in 2021.

The matchup will feature some marquee goalies, pitting Jacob Markstrom against Sergei Bobrovsky.  Advantage Flames there as well.  Even with 19 days off, Markstrom still leads the league in shutouts and his .930 SV% beats Bobrovsky’s .918.

 

Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) guards his net against the Boston Bruins during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

An area of concern for the Calgary Flames is how they start.  Before entering COVID protocol, Calgary was first to score 48% of the time.  In their two starts since, they have come out slowly and allowed their opponents into the game first.  A long break and rigorous travel are ready and logical explanations for not starting on time.  But Florida has scored first in their last two.  So the Flames are not as likely to get away with coming out soft.

Betting odds, courtesy of WynnBET, are as follows:

  • Panthers are 1.5 point favourites at home
  • Panthers are moneyline favourites at 1.68, Flames are the underdog at 2.25
  • Over/Under set at 6.0 points, with the Over slightly favoured at 1.86