Winnipeg Jets (37-34-6) vs. Calgary Flames (36-34-7)
NHL: Saturday, August 1, 2020 at 10:30 p.m. ET
In a Western Conference qualifying best of five series the eighth seed Calgary Flames face the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1 on Saturday. This series is being held at Rogers Place in Edmonton. The Jets were on a solid 11-5-1 run when the COVID-19 shut down the season. They are led by their defense and they rank in the middle of the pack in terms of goals per game. Winnipeg’s only game against the Flames this season came in the Heritage Classic outdoor game at a neutral site where the Jets won 2-1 in OT.
The Flames were at 9-7-1 in their last 17 games before the break and they are the slight betting favorite in this Game 1. However, they will be facing Connor Hellebuyck (2.57 GAA 31-21-5), who is a Vezina Trophy candidate.
Hellebuyck Has to Step UpHellebuyck was having a great season before the break and while the Jets have given up the seventh-most shots in the league he leads the NHL with six shutouts. He has playoff experience, as this game will be his 24th playoff start and his play in between the pipes will be key.
Kyle Conner leads the Jets in points (73) and goals (38) and five players have scored at least 22 goals for the club this season. Winnipeg’s offense has been up and down on the season and while the defense added Dylan DeMelo the unit has been inconsistent as well and luckily for the team Hellebuyck has been great in between the pipes. The Jets have lost 11 of their last 16 games when they have been the underdog.
Will Experience Get the Nod?The Flames head into this series with a question mark on who will be the top goalie? David Rittich (24-17-6 2.97 GAA) was the #1 G in the season but Cam Talbot (12-10-1 2.63 GAA) had a better GAA and save percentage in the season. On top of that, he had a better training camp and has a lot of post-season experience while Rittich has never started a playoff game.
Matthew Tkachuk leads the Flames in points (61) and Elias Lindholm leads them in goals (29). Calgary only ranks 20th in the league in goals per game and while they have a solid and deep defense the loss of Travis Hamonic, who opted out of the restart, is a big one.
The Calgary Flames are:
- 0-4 in their last 4 vs. Central
- 0-4 in their last 4 playoff games as a favorite
- 1-4 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record
The Winnipeg Jets are:
- 4-0 in their last 4 overall
- 5-1 in their last 6 vs. Western Conference
- 46-22 in their last 68 vs. Pacific
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
While the Jets are only 5-11 in their last 16 games as an underdog the Flames have lost their last four games when they were the favorite. Look for that last trend to continue in this Game 1. The Jets beat the Flames in the lone matchup this season in a low scoring defensive affair and I look for the same kind of game in this one. With a defensive game, I have to go with the Jets with Hellebuyck in goal, as he will have a solid game. Winnipeg will score the minor upset and win taking a 1-0 lead in this best of five series.
Prediction: PICK Jets
Full-Game Total Pick
In five of the last six games, including the one this season, the total has gone Under. That is a trend that will continue with two teams that don’t have a lot of firepower on the attack. Hellebuyck will be great in goal but I do not see the Jets’ offense lighting up the Flames whoever they have in between the pipes. This will be a low scoring affair and because of that, the Under is the call in this Game 1.
Prediction: PICK Under