Expect a tough and close game tonight at the Pengrowth Saddledome, as the Boston Bruins
are on the road to defy the Calgary Flames
. Many streaks are on the line, as both teams are on a winning streak
, and both goalies had a shutout
in their last game. Livetipsportal.com provides you the key informations for this game.
After a very bad start to the season with 15 goals allowed in their first three games, the Calgary Flames
(5-3-1; 5th in the West) are in a much better shape right now. They are on a four games winning streak
and allowed just five goals in the process, while they lighted the red light fourteen times. They come from a 3-0 shutout win at home on Tuesday against division rivals Colordo Avalanche. The game was extremely close though, as the first goal of the game has been scored only 8:22 into the third period by Curtis Glencross, his first with a Flames uniform. The Flames have done an outsanding defensive job
in this third period, allowing just two shots on Miikka Kiprusoff.
Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff
has been known those past years to have a slow start in the first 20-30 games of the season, but it seems that he gets his game going way earlier this year, and has been a big part of the Flames success
over the past games. And when he is in good shape, he is one of the most dominant goalies in the world. And actually, he is on fire.
Calgary relies on a strong mix of energy and toughness in the hard-working system imposed by head coach Mike Keenan
. Forwards like captain Jarome Iginla, Todd Bertuzzi, Rene Bourque, Brandon Prust and Andre Roy, or defensement like Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regher, Cory Sarich and Jim Vandermeer will bring a grinding presence, looking to outwork and outmuscle their opponents everywhere on the ice, at any time. This makes them a hard team to play against
, and even more at home, where they have a 3-1-1 record and the impressive support of the "C of red".
On their side, the Boston Bruins
(5-2-3; 5th in the East) have been good so far, and are on a three games winning streak
. Tonight will be their third consecutive road game against a Canadian team of the North-West Division. So far they've beat the Edmonton Oilers (monday) and the Vancouver Canucks (tuesday), both times on a soccer score of 1-0, which means that Tim Thomas is on a two games shutout streak
The B's have been solid on the road
so far with a 4-1-2 record out of their basement, and particularly against the North-West division teams (3-1-0), loosing only to the Minnesota Wild. They will be the first North-East division team faced by the Flames this season.
There are four former Flames in the Bruins roster
: Marc Savard (99-03), Chuck Kobasew (02-07), Andrew Ference (02-07) and Stephane Yelle (02-08). No doubt this will be a special game for three of them (Chuck Kobasew being actually injured), and that they'll be looking to make things happen.
Boston's goalie Tim Thomas
looks to be taking the #1 role, after splitting duties in the first games with veteran Manny Fernandez. With two consecutive shutouts and excellent stats so far (1.77 GAA and 94.3 SV%), he makes the choice easy for head coach Claude Julien. And he can count on giant defenseman Zdeno Chara
to protect his net, although "Big Z" has a slow start to the season, with 3 assists but a minus-3 rating in 10 games, along with 8 penalty minutes.
If we take a look at the teams stats, there are some very interesting ones. Both teams have a well-runned powerplay
over 20% (20.5% for Boston, 9th, and 20.4% for Calgary, 10th), but the Bruins are doing a horrible job in the penalty killing department
, last but one in the league with only 73.2%. On the other hand, the Flames are solid when they are a man down, ranked 9th with 86.0%. But in the same time, the Bruins are the second least penalized team
, with an average of 11.2 penalty minutes per game, while the Flames are taking 21.1 penalty minutes per game (26th). However, the Flames are known to have guys dropping the gloves for a fight, which strongly increases their total of penalty minutes. If we focus on the average of shorthanded situations per game, the gap is tighter, with 5.6 situations per game with a man in the box for the Flames, and 4.1 for the Bruins.
The other big stat that jumped to my eyes is the ratio of goals for/against on 5-on-5 situations.
The Bruins are second in the league in this domain with a 1.58 ratio (19-12), far behind the 1.80 of the New Jersey Devils, while the Flames are only 22nd with a 0.89 ratio (16-18). But considering the very slow start to the season for the Flames, including a 0-6 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on their season opener, some of their overall stats are a bit biaised and don't reflect their current shape. Please keep that in mind if you are doing your own statistics research.
The 3 keys of the game:
The shape of a goalie can change by a lot after a shutout. He may have a sudden excess of confidence, or his defensive partners may have and let him all alone. Both goalies are very professional and experienced though. And even if there are some more young players in the Flames defense, they've got "Iron" Mike Keenan on their back to keep them in the right direction. I believe both goalies will allow goals, but very few on each side, so every single mistake can cost the win to the team. Tim Thomas can be excellent for a few games, but usually doesn't last long, and he just had two consecutive shutouts for the very first time of his career. On the other hand, Miikka Kiprusoff is able to carry the Flames team all by himself on long periods of time, and has a lot to prove to his head coach this season, after what happened in last season's playoffs. So i think the Calgary Flames get the edge on this point.
- Stay out of the box!
With both teams having a solid powerplay, discipline will be a key factor. Even if the Flames are used to take a lot penalties, they are also a very tough aggressive and agitating team, something that the Bruins are not used to face in the Eastern Conference. So i wouldn't be surprised to see the Bruins loose their mind at some point and start taking stupid penalties. And when we take into account the strength of the Flames powerplay and the weakness of the Bruins penalty kill, that could be the difference maker.
- 5-on-5 situations:
If both goalies play on an even field and if Boston keeps his nerves fresh, all will be decided on the even strength play. The stats in this domain are clearly putting the Bruins ahead, but those stats are a bit biaised, as we've seen. The Bruins aren't used to have a huge pressure on them straight away when they get the puck back in their own end, which could lead them to bad giveaways, giving excellent scoring opportunity to Calgary. They've got big tough guys too (Chara, Lucic,...), so they should handle part of the pressure, but probably not all of it.
I think the Flames will win by a short margin, one or two goals, in an intense and interesting game. So i suggest you to bet on the Calgary Flames
, that's to say choice 1. The best odd for that is 2.20 at Expekt.com