The NHL Playoff race is going to be stacked this season, and the Calgary Flames are going to be in the thick of it all.
NHL betting odds are showing as many as 26 teams with a legitimate shot of making the NHL playoffs, leaving the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets on the outside looking in.
But what’s even more interesting has to be the conference breakdowns and how the competition will vary in the East and West this season.
Let’s take a look:
Western Conference Outlook
As of right now, the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars are expected to fill out the first four spots in the Western Conference.
Three of the four teams had impressive seasons, with the Golden Knights ultimately winning the Stanley Cup, but a healthy Avalanche squad could also do some damage this season.
They’re closely followed by the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets.
The Wild have kept their core intact and should have some top prospects pushing for bigger roles this season; but all eyes will be on Filip Gustavsson to repeat his performances from his breakout season.
With some major additions to their roster, the L.A. Kings look like they could be the team to take the next step and join the elite of the Western Conference.
So what should one expect from the Calgary Flames?
The Flames are one of those under-the-radar teams that underperformed to such a degree last season, that they have a high probability of bouncing back into the playoff picture this season.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Elias Lindholm are expected to perform with a little more creative flow on a regular basis under new head coach Ryan Huska. Having those three players return to their elite scoring ways will already be a major improvement over last season.
But the biggest question mark will certainly be in between the pipes, as the duo of Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar was simply not good enough last season to warrant making the playoffs. If Markstrom can return to his Vezina-caliber days, the Flames could be one of the big surprise teams in the Western Conference this season.
It is always possible to beat the odds, as we saw last season, with the Devils, Kraken and Wild jumping up well beyond where they were expected to land.
It will be an absolute fight from Game 1, but the Flames have a good chance of returning to their winning ways if all goes well.
*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel.