Calgary Flames vs Winnipeg Jets: Playoffs Opening Round Free Pick & Predictions

Flames vs. Jets
Calgary Flames vs Winnipeg Jets: Playoffs Opening Round Free Pick & Predictions

The NHL resumes its season in its two Canadian hub cities with Edmonton hosting the Western Conference. There, the eighth-seeded Calgary Flames battle the No. 9 seed Winnipeg Jets in the Opening Round of the NHL playoffs. The Jets actually finished the year with one more point than the Flames, but had also played two more games, so fell behind Calgary on points percentage. The best-of-five series begins Saturday at 10:30 p.m. EST with a potential Game 5 scheduled for Aug. 8.

Free Picks & Predictions

Both of these teams were part of the jumble in the Western Conference that separated the fourth and 10th seeds by just six points. The tight race for playoff positioning will make this series interesting, as will the fact these two teams met just once this year. Winnipeg won that game in overtime, but it was back in October.

The Flames took a step back this season after finishing atop the Western Conference last year. A large reason is Johnny Gaudreau having an off year on offense with a career-low 58 points in 70 games this season. However, the Flames’ defensive deficiencies also got the better of them. Only two of Calgary’s defensemen ended the season with a positive plus-minus while David Rittich took a step back in goal for Calgary. Rittich’s save percentage dropped four points and he allowed a third of a goal more per game than he did last season.

Winnipeg has the offense to take advantage of that with five 20-goal scorers, all of whom had at least 50 points. That crew was led by Kyle Connor’s 38 goals and 73 points, a total matched by Mark Scheifele, who had 29 goals and 44 assists. The Jets are backstopped by Vezina finalist Connor Hellebuyck, who faced the most shots in the league this season and still finished with a .922 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average.

The Jets still have many of the same players from the team that advanced to the Western Conference Final two seasons ago. That experience when added to Winnipeg’s scoring depth and defensive advantages makes it hard to pick against the Jets in this series. Winnipeg is one of the slimmest underdogs on the board in the Opening Round on NHL betting sites in New Jersey, but the +110 being offered is the right price for the Jets. For some extra play and to earn a little more cash, take the Jets to win in four games (+425) or five (+435).

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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