Monday, April 13, 2015

NHL Playoffs 2015: Flames Vs Canucks Prediction

Calgary Flames Vs Vancouver Canucks

Market Watch

Sportsbooks are listing the Canucks at -143, which translates to a 58.8% chance of winning the series. Is that accurate? It's a tough question to answer, mainly because the Flames have defied the odds all season long, and you really never know what to expect on any given night from the Jekyll and Hyde Canucks.

If you're wondering whether that is a wishy-washy intro for this pick, well, you'd be right. This isn't a series I have a strong grasp on at all.

Bottom Line

It's weird to say, but both of these teams are extremely lucky to be playing each other, as they are the two worst teams alive in the playoffs. It seems unfair that the Blues and Ducks win their divisions, and are "rewarded" by having to face the Wild and Jets, but this playoff format is what it is.

Who will control the puck in this series? Calgary finished with a woeful 46.5% SAF, which ranks among the worst teams in the league. In straight CF%, they are historically bad when it comes to playoff teams. And without Giordano, that number dropped as low as 42% down the stretch. The Canucks aren't all that much better though. They are the definition of an average team this year, with a 50% SAF puck possession number. Over the last 20 games, the Canucks fell to a sub 50% team, hovering between 48.5 and 47%. Not good.

In between the pipes, there are huge questions for both sides. Lack versus Hiller? I have no idea who wins that battle. Hiller was better at 5on5 this year, but Lack's numbers are skewed because he was in so many unfavorable spot starts in the first half of the year. He played much better when he filled in for an injured Miller.  Lack was also miles better keeping pucks out on the PK. Hiller was 29th among starters in that category. And will we see Miller in this series? He looks nowhere near ready to play, but he was a big ticket addition and probably expects to see some action. That could be to the Flames benefit.

I have no choice but to roll with the mediocre Canucks because I can't in good conscience take a team that shouldn't have made the playoffs to begin with.  Vancouver should be able to wrap this up in 6 games or less.

Pick: Canucks -1.5 (+163) (2u)

All first round series predictions