Connor McDavid has stolen the show in the Battle of Alberta. With nine points in just three games, it’s tempting to say that McDavid is the reason that Edmonton holds a 2-1 series lead over the Calgary Flames, but the truth is that it’s been an impressive, team-wide effort from the Oilers over the last 120 minutes.
Since Game 1, the Oilers have outscored the Flames, 9-4, and have limited them to 4.1 expected goals and 18 high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5. Those aren’t smothering defensive numbers, but considering where Edmonton was in Game 1 — when it surrendered seven goals, 3.16 expected goals, and 13 high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 — it’s a marked improvement.
Flames vs. Oilers Game 4 odds
Odds provided by BetMGM
Spread: CAL: +1.5 (-250) EDM: -1.5 (+200_
Moneyline: CAL: (+100) vs. EDM (-120)
Total: Over 6.5 (-105) | Under 6.5 (-115)
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Flames vs. Oilers Game 4 prediction
And what that improvement has done is allowed McDavid the chance to be the difference. With a game-breaker like McDavid, all Edmonton is asking of its depth players and defense is to break even. If they can do that, it allows No. 97 to win the game with a moment of magic.
Stopping McDavid is certainly priority number one for the Flames, but Calgary is going nowhere if Jacob Markstrom doesn’t get his game together. Markstrom was superb in Round 1, but the 32-year-old has found things difficult against the Oilers so far, skating to an .885 save percentage and -5.24 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) through the first three games.
Calgary’s defense hasn’t done its goaltender any favors, but at some point, the Flames will need Markstrom — who is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy — to step up, especially since it looks like Mike Smith is back on form in the other net.
Whether or not Markstrom gets back to the level he was playing at during Round 1 is one thing, but it does seem like a pretty safe bet that — based on his long-term form — he will at least start trending up at some point in this series.
Down 2-1 and struggling to contain McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evander Kane, it would seem logical to expect the Flames to make some adjustments to try and turn Game 4 into a rock fight. Calgary has the personnel to grind out games and in this situation, it would make sense for Darryl Sutter to instruct his team to over-commit to slowing Edmonton down in the neutral zone and protecting their goaltender.
That adjustment, coupled with Edmonton’s improved defensive play and Mike Smith’s strong form in the net, should turn this game into more of a chess match than what we’ve seen so far. The first three games in this series have featured a total of 28 goals, so a bet on Under 6.5 doesn’t seem like anyone’s idea of a fun time, but given the situation and the price, it makes sense.
Flames vs. Oilers Game 4 pick
Under 6.5 (-115) — BetMGM