NHL Preview: Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche
The Calgary Flames are playing much better in February. The Flames have earned a point in all but three games, going 6-4-3 on the month despite playing challenging opponents, enduring injury, and sorting out goaltending issues as they go.
The Colorado Avalanche have just four wins on the month, but their captain Gabriel Landeskog is back. Since his return, the Avalanche have yet to find a way to win, but they are playing better. The Avs have taken perennial playoff contenders to overtime in their last two games, both on the road.
With Colorado coming home, this game should be a difficult one for the Calgary Flames. The Avs are winless in their last three games, but they are a far better team with Landeskog than without him. Semyon Varlamov has been keeping the Avs in games with excellent goaltending, while the offense adjusts to the return of their best player. The Avs are far better than their record over their last three games.
The Flames have received strong goaltending in the absence of Miikka Kiprusoff, and the offense is playing better than any other point so far this year. The Flames have scored eight goals in their last three games, with several outbursts throughout the month.
This is a battle between two mediocre teams playing extremely well. While the Avs are depending on a big-name starting goaltender and the Flames have used a makeshift rotation of replacements for their star, both teams have shut down strong opponents of late to stay in games.
I expect a low-scoring battle, and give a slight edge to the home team. Still, if the Flames can find a way to keep their hot streak going, they can steal a win from a slightly disjointed Avs team.