Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 4/10/13
For the Gamblers! In a battle of the best and worst of the Northwest Division, the Vancouver Canucks, winners of three straight games head to Calgary to take on the dismal Calgary Flames who beat Colorado last time out to avoid the basement in the Northwest Division. While the playoffs appear to be a foregone conclusion for the Flames, the Canucks still have a ton to play for. Minnesota is still knocking on the door for first place in the Division – playoff seeding is on the line in Vancouver’s chase for their fifth straight Division Crown. Vancouver Canucks (22-11-1-5) at Calgary Flames (14-20-1-3) When: 9:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta Broadcast: SNET-P, SNET-CGY Canucks vs. Flames Betting Lines from betonline.com Vancouver Canucks -1½ +170 -181 Ov 5½ +118 Calgary Flames +1½ -195 +164 Un 5½ -130 The Vancouver Canucks are finally starting to resemble the team that most envisioned at the beginning of the season. They have gone 9-2 in their last 11 games and are currently ridding a three game win streak in which they have outscored their opposition 11-2. The offensive uptick is certainly a welcome sign for this team which hovered around the middle of the pack all season long in goals for. The addition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler after a 20 game absence due to a broken foot are bound to help! The team is more balanced, they are better on faceoffs and the depth has opened the ice up for a few of the preciously struggling stars. Kesler scored in his first game back from injury Monday night, Daniel Sedin looks reborn and has three points in two games, Alex Burrows has two points in two games and the defense is chipping in once again offensively – Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison each have three points in their last three games. Things are good offensively again for the Canucks with 10 games to go in the Regular season - and then there is the goaltending! Cory Schneider is 9-2-0 with a 1.29 GAA and four shutouts in his last 12 games, and needed to make only 19 saves in Monday's 2-0 win over Phoenix for his league-leading fifth shutout this season. He will start again Wednesday as he has a 1.63 GAA while winning each of his three starts versus Calgary this season, stopping 36 shots in Saturday's 5-2 victory. The Calgary Flames made a big statement at trade deadline time – they essentially gave up on the season and got rid of their two best players. The Flames ended a five game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the equally-hapless Avalanche Monday night in less-than-impressive fashion. The Flames average an OK 2.68 goals per game, almost a goal more than Vancouver but without Jarome Iginla and Jay Bowmeester, the offense has been hard to come by. Alex Tanguay, Mark Giordano and Lee Stempniak each have two points in two games but that’s about all when talking about the hottest Flames. The Flames real weakness this season has been defense and goaltending. They allow 3.45 goals per game and they surrendered five goals Saturday to a Canucks team that had struggled to net more than two goals in a game. Miikka Kiprusoff could be back in net for this matchup. He lost each game during the previous losing streak while posting a 4.14 GAA. Kiprusoff is 3-8-1 with a 3.96 GAA over his last 12 starts versus the Canucks, who have lost three straight at Calgary. Betting Prediction: A few trends to consider: • Under is 9-1-2 in VAN last 12 overall. • VAN are 7-1 in their last 8 games following a win. • Under is 6-1-1 in VAN last 8 games following a win. • CAL are 8-2 in their last 10 home games. • Over is 16-5-1 in CAL last 22 Wed. games. • Over is 20-8-8 in CAL last 36 home games. • Over is 8-1-2 in the last 11 meetings in Calgary. • Over is 19-7-5 in the last 31 meetings. Wednesday night’s game is clearly a meeting of the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots” in the NHL. There is absolutely no way that the Canucks should fall to the Flames. With first place still in question for the Canucks and with their spark plug Ryan Kesler back in the lineup, is shouldn’t be too much to expect Vancouver’s best the rest of the way. Vancouver finally looks like the team we all expected and unfortunately for Calgary fans – so do the Flames! Pick: Vancouver Canucks -181
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