In Canada Sports Betting’s second NHL Back to the Futures segment, the Wingman focusses on Canadian ongoings, with a particular focus on the Calgary Flames.
The Wingman also presents the first award for Canadian of the Week, or #COW. The Canadian of the Week is a prize given to our home and native land’s most recent standout performer.
You’ll have to watch the segment to find out who wins the first award of its kind, but Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Bernier are all in the running after exceptional weeks.
The Wingman then delves into which Canadian teams have a viable shot of winning the 2018 Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, four Canadian outfits – Canucks, Oilers, Senators, Canadiens – are all but out of futures contention.
That leaves the Maple Leafs, Jets and Flames vying for the Holy Grail, and Canadian supremacy. Headlining Calgary for this edition, the Wingman goes into what chance the Flames have of making a playoff run, where they’ve been successful and what needs to improve in the latter stages of the season.
Are the Flames viable Stanley Cup underdog picks?
He surmises that the Flames are a superb underdog futures pick if Mike Smith continues standing on his head, particularly in unfriendly confines. Calgary’s number one has the best save percentage (.945) on the road in the NHL and was just named one of the league’s stars of the week.
Teammate Johnny Gaudreau, who led the league with eight points in four games, also earned the plaudit, joining Smith as a star of the week.
Defenceman Dougie Hamilton is tearing through the opposition like a sharp skate rips apart soft ice. A major part of Calgary’s recent success, Hamilton has scored three game winners during the current winning streak.
If Hamilton and Gaudreau, both of whom endured a miserable series against Anaheim in the 2016-17 playoffs, maintain their current level of play, Calgary is an excellent outsider pick going into the postseason.
Even more important, though, is Smith’s performances between the pipes. Brian Elliott failed the organization by conceding suspect goals at the most inopportune times in the four-game Anaheim sweep.
Smith was acquired from Phoenix to ensure stability at the most important position, and the veteran is thus far exceeding expectations.
He could turn out to be the piece of the puzzle Calgary has been searching for since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013.
If so, the Flames could make an improbable run, one that resembles their 2004 journey to the Stanley Cup Final, hopefully though with an altogether different outcome.