NHL Game Preview: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Calgary Flames

Miikka KiprusoffAs the Final Four odds are released and examined, many hockey fans are turning to the best online sportsbook websites to see an NHL game preview of their favorite team.

The NHL odds on the Phoenix Coyotes winning the Stanley Cup when the season started were 75 to 1. A couple of trades and several months later and the Coyotes have played themselves into a 15 to 1 position. If you were to apply that sports cliche of the “team that no one wants to play” in this 2009-2010 post-season it would be the Coyotes.

The Calgary Flames had the NHL betting world excited when the season started as they were made an 18 to 1 favorite to win the Stanley Cup, but a disappointing season has dropped them to 40 to 1. The Flames are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league and if it were not for goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff then the Flames would be nowhere near a playoff spot.

This is an interesting game to watch because this is an example of an unstoppable force coming upon a desperately trying to survive object. Just when the Flames look to have put themselves out of the playoffs they win two or three tough games to put themselves back in the race. Right now the Flames trail the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff spot by four points. The Flames have six games left and the Avalanche have seven. The Avalanche have lost two in a row and six of their last ten. If the Flames were ever going to make a move they need to make it right now.

The problem for the Flames is that the Coyotes have won eight of their last ten games and are challenging the falling San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. Prior to the trade deadline the Sharks were expected to win the division and the conference.

The other problem for the Flames is Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov has 40 wins this season and is a major factor in why the Coyotes are a contender. The Coyotes added players like Wojtek Wolski and Lee Stempniak at the trade deadline to augment what Bryzgalov was doing, and it worked.

The Flames can be extremely unpredictable and Bryzgalov is prone to having bad nights where he gives up three and four goals, especially in the last week or so. It is entirely possible, given their tendencies this season, that the Flames could beat the Coyotes and start a run of six straight wins that puts them into position for a playoff spot.

The Coyotes are just happy to be in the mix, and they have already shown signs of preparing for the playoffs by resting Bryzgalov every few games. There is nothing to stop the Coyotes from making the playoffs now, and it is entirely possible that the Sharks could keep falling back to the Coyotes in the standings and give the conference and the division to the Coyotes.

Pick: Calgary Flames 3-1

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