Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:51 AM

NHL Best Bets, Score Predictions for Wednesday, Mar. 31

NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for one NHL game on Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2021.

Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks

  • Money-Line Odds: Calgary -122; Vancouver +105
  • Total (Over-Under): 5.5

Score Prediction: Calgary 4 Vancouver 3

Best Bet: Calgary ML

Realistic playoff hopes are getting quite thin for both of these teams, and neither of them have really had many things go well for them of late.

In Vancouver's case, injuries at the top for an already struggling offense – scored two goals or less in five of their last 10; has shown up in spades in the Canucks last two games; 4-0 and 5-1 loss to Winnipeg.

Vancouver's also been off for a full week between games, and they haven't even gotten that much healthier in that time. They are a team that still relies on their goaltending a little too much, and had three straight OT wins not in the Canucks favor. This 6-4 SU record in those 10 games could easily be sitting at 3-7 SU.

There hasn't been a whole lot to like about Calgary's play of late either, as there has been a few too many off the cuff post-game comments from every level of this organization this year to not question how enjoyable a place it is to be right now.

Five losses in their last six has put this team in a tough spot the rest of the way, and at least from what they believed they had on paper, missing out on the playoffs would be a huge disappointment. I still believe they've got a shot at making it interesting, and at this price against the Canucks it's a worthy add. For one, Calgary is 4-2 SU in the six meetings with Vancouver already this year, and the first road game for the Flames in this series saw them close higher than -130. I'm still of the mindset that these two teams are much closer to their preseason perspectives than ones that are currently tied in the standings.

So arguing that anything under -130 for Calgary on the road in this matchup is on the short side is the more likely argument I'd take up, and that's assuming Vancouver is at full strength. Elias Pettersson is still going to be on the shelf for some time, and with a recent positive case on the team, who knows how that ends up taking course in the next 12-24 hours. None of those things were an issue in those previous meetings when the Canucks were priced in this range or higher, and the coin flip outcome of where Vancouver lands on the rest-vs-rust scale after the long layoff is something I'd prefer to go against with the talent edge landing on the Flames.

A playoff berth was always going to be a bit of a bonus for the Canucks this year, while it was much more the expectation for the Flames. I've got no problem backing that a sense of urgency shows up soon on Calgary's end, and getting things going on the road against a lesser spot is a great way to ignite a run.

If things are really as awful as they sometimes appear with the Flames, it will show itself soon enough where getting off the expectation a playoff push for this team minimizes bankroll damage to a few units. Calgary's got Edmonton, and then two with Toronto on deck so it's now or never for Calgary. A loss here may end with the Flames folding up the tent sooner than expected. I don't think we are quite there with this team yet.

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