Ahead of the game: Ottawa Senators vs. Calgary Flames

After a patently unsuccessful trip through Florida and Carolina, and five days off, the Calgary Flames host the Ottawa Senators.  Here are some pre-game thoughts and betting odds.

Let’s not lie…it was a rough road trip for the Calgary Flames.

After 3 games against top tier Eastern Conference teams, the Flames returned home with zero points and the dubious distinction of getting outscored 16-6.  Watching those games, it felt like they found new and different ways to lose every night.

And upon their return, five whole days between games.

I’m not certain that much time off is the best thing for a team that had to shut down for 19 days for NHL COVID protocol.  The team hardly needs more time to develop rust. I had initially thought that the COVID break would be ultimately beneficial for the group.  But after the performance in Sunrise, Tampa and Raleigh, I’m not so sure.

Matchup
Ottawa Senators
9-18-2
Calgary Flames
17-10-6
Thursday, January 13th
7:00pm MT
Sportsnet West
Flames 1.35

Irrespective, this appears to be a winnable game for the Calgary Flames.  They are on home ice for the first time in 2022.  And, unlike their last 3 opponents, Ottawa isn’t exactly poised for the playoffs.  They are currently sitting 7th in the Atlantic Division.

Due to their own issues with the Omicron variant, the Sens are about 7 games behind the pace in their division.  In that regard, they are in a similar spot as the Flames.

Moreover, Calgary won the last contest against the Senators back in November, a 4-0 shutout win.  The interesting thing about that game was that Ottawa started with their positive COVID tests and subsequent game postponements the very next day.

On a personal note, I always enjoy it when the Flames and Sens play.  I love seeing Matthew Tkachuk play his brother, Brady.  I think the competition brings out the best in them both.

Scoring First & Secondary Scoring

I won’t bore you again with my take on the importance of scoring first.  It is a big deal to me and I harp on it a lot.  My rationale can be found here.  Put simply, the Calgary Flames gotta do it.

Much has been made about the team’s need for secondary scoring.  My colleague, Gary Pearson, wrote a great piece about it here.  In an effort to improve in that category, it has been postulated that the team look to the Stockton Heat for help.  Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier are leading the Heat with 12 and 11 goals respectively.  It seems only logical that the Flames would call up one of them to see if they can provide the offense the group desperately needs.

I would add that putting one of those guys in the lineup against a team like Ottawa is a fine idea.  Test the kids against a lower tier opponent.  Darryl Sutter, however, does not see it my way.  In a post-practice media availability on Wednesday, Sutter categorically shut the idea down (video below).  Effectively the Flames coach believes quite adamantly that the players require further development and that bringing them up for any length of time would do more harm than good.

So, as fans we look hopefully at the middle six forwards for goals tonight.

Betting Odds

According to WynnBET, the Calgary Flames are 1.5-point favourites at home.  The Flames have 1.35 Money Line odds while the underdog Senators are 3.30.  The total for the game is set at and over/under of 6.0.