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The novelty of outdoor NHL games is wearing off. Once the novelty wears off you are left with the quality of hockey. When players are shivering from sub-zero temperatures and the ice is twice as hard as it should be, the quality of the game suffers. While some people were looking over the college basketball lines for the weekend, NHL fans were gearing up for the second outdoor game of the season – the Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens.

The betting services expected the Flames to win the game, but not by the margin that wound up being the final score. In a 4-0 win over the Canadiens, the Flames showed speed and strength throughout the game. But they did so in sub-zero weather on bad ice. Now the Flames need to see how they can handle a high-flying team like the Boston Bruins on good ice and indoors.

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins were happy to see the Flames beat the Canadiens in the Heritage Classic, because the Montreal loss kept the Boston lead in the Northeastern Division at four points. The Bruins are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games and are currently riding a two-game winning streak. It was goaltending that was the Bruins undoing last year and, to this point, it has been goaltending that has put the Bruins on top. This year it is goaltender Tim Thomas with the hot hand in Boston, but his hand has been a bit cold lately.

In his last four decisions, Thomas is 1-3. In his one win in that stretch he allowed six goals against. So he has not exactly been sharp lately. His most recent losses were back to back four-goal games against the Detroit Red Wings and then the Toronto Maple Leafs. As Thomas goes so go the Bruins, and right now Thomas is not going so good.

Calgary Flames

It is nearly impossible to judge how a team is playing by one of the outdoor games. The Flames played well in the Heritage Classic, but because of the conditions the game seemed to be played in slow motion. The reality is that the Flames are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and have a current winning streak of three games. They have a balanced scoring attack and are getting good goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flames are just a good team playing good hockey.

The strength of the Flames is at home where they are 18-9-3. But the Bruins are better on the road than at home, and are sporting an 18-7-4 road record. This sets itself up as a good game, but the Bruins recent goaltending problems could make this a blowout for the Flames if Jarome Iginla and the rest of the Flames scorers start to find their groove.

The Bottom Line

The Bruins are getting some help in maintaining their lead in the Northeast Division by the slumping Canadiens. The Flames will never catch the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest Division lead, but Calgary is definitely building momentum heading into the playoffs.

Gambling Advisor Pick: Calgary Flames

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