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Jeff's 2016-17 NHL Western Conference Spotlight Team

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: Oct 9, 2016
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Jeff's (JH-Sportsline) NHL Spotlight teams are squads that will make the playoffs (and/or improve by at least 15 points) after missing out the previous year. Jeff is a five-time NHL Handicapping champion documented by The Sports Monitor of OK. Jeff cashed a record 78.6% in 2013 NHL regular season and 70% in the Postseason. Jeff was ranked No. 3 last season. Do yourself a favor and jump on board. Full season NHL packages are now available. Or, go monthly for just $275 all sports. Jeff has the highest NHL winning percentage since 1998 in the Nation.

Jeff's 2016-17 NHL Western Conference Spotlight team: Calgary Flames (2015-16 record: 35-40-7, 77 points)

Last season, the Flames were ranked last in even-strength save percentage (.911). It's very difficult for young talented teams to overcome inconsistent goal-tending in the NHL. I see a big improvement between the pipes for the Flames with the acquisition of Brian Elliot. Last season, Elliot led the league with a .930 save percentage for the St. Louis Blues. Calgary has a solid backup in Chad Johnson if Elliot needs to take a night off. Johnson had a .920 save percentage in 45 games with Sabres last season. His .917 save percentage in 101 career games ranks above average. Elliot brings his 2.07 GAA from the Blues last season. Excellent!

This team has a lot of young talent up front and on the blue line. Love the addition of Troy Brouwer, who gives the Flames more size on the wing and a veteran presence in the dressing room. I will assume Johnny Gaudreau ends his holdout before their first game. He's a budding superstar, who led Calgary and was tied for sixth in the NHL with 78 points (30 goals, 48 assists) in 79 games last season. Add in talented forwards Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik and the offense could be ranked in the Top half this season. The Flames are switching to more of a puck-possession system and I believe that's exactly how they should play in the tougher Western Conference.

Calgary was ranked 10th in scoring and 30th in goals against last season. The offense will be just as good and could improve with a more efficient Power Play. With the additions of Brian Elliot and Chad Johnson, the goal-tending will be much better in front of a big mobile defense. Speaking of the defense, they are loaded with TJ Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Dougie Hamilton protecting the blue line. Keep an eye on Keegan Kanzig, who should make his debut this season. The 6' 7" 241-pound defenseman was a third-round pick in 2013, and could be a difference-maker later in the season. The Pacific division is a bit more wide-open than in years past. I think the Flames return to the Playoffs with ease if they stay relatively healthy.

The Calgary Flames future Over/Under point total is 87.5 for 2016-17. That seems low to me. The Flames should surpass their 77-point total from last season provided Johnny Gaudreau returns sooner rather the later. The goal-tending should be very good and all their young forwards are a year wiser. The Flames should beat up on fellow division rivals Arizona and Vancouver. The Flames are 60-1 to win the Stanley Cup next June. I don't think they will the whole thing, but with improved goal-tending and a new philosophy on offense, this team should reach the postseason. Go Over 87.5 season points! Good Luck this Hockey Season, Jeff/JHSL

Jeff's 2016-17 prediction: (41-30-11, 93 points, Wild Card)

Up next: Eastern Conference Spotlight team

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