This will likely be a pretty quick series with the top seed in the West, Colorado Avalanche being huge favorites over the #8 seed Nashville Predators.
The Colorado Avalanche had a fantastic season, going 56-19-17 and locked up the first seed in the Western Conference quite a while ago. They went 32-5-4 at home this season and will have home ice locked up the entirety of the playoffs unless they match up with the President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers in the Cup Finals. The Avs have been very good on both ends of the ice this year. They scored an average of 3.76 goals per game, fourth most in the NHL and they had the fourth most shots, an average of 35 per game. They have the seventh most efficient power play in the NHL, converting on 24% of their chances. Colorado improved their goaltending in the offseason bringing in Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper’s been very good this season for them with a 2.54 GAA, .921 save percentage and five shutouts. The Avs have allowed an average of just 2.83 goals per game, tenth fewest in the NHL. Colorado took the twelfth most penalties in the NHL and had a 79.7% penalty kill percentage.
The Predators finished the regular season with a 45-30-7 record in the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They weren’t great in the closing stretch of the season with only four wins in their last twelve games. On the season, the Predators were pretty good on both ends of the ice. They scored an average of 3.2 goals per game, twelfth most in the NHL. They’ve been very efficient with a limited amount of shots, averaging only a ninth fewest in the NHL average of 29.7 per game with a sixth best in the NHL shooting percentage at 10.7%. The Preds have the sixth best power play in the NHL, scoring on 24.4% of those chances. Nashville was by far the most penalized team in the NHL this season and went 79.2% on the penalty kill. The Predators weren’t great defensively, allowing an average of 3.05 goals per game and allowing a 13th most average of 32.3 shots per game. That was with All Star goalie Juuse Saros in goal who had a 2.64 GAA and .918 save percentage. Saros is out with a lower body injury and will be out for at least the first two games in this series in Colorado. With Saros out, the Preds have to be stuck with backup David Rittich in goal. Rittich has sucked this year and in my eyes is easily the worst goalie starting in the playoffs with a 3.57 GAA and .886 save percentage.
In the regular season, the Preds surprisingly went 3-1 against the Avs this season and played very well against them. Colorado won the first matchup 6-2 at home on November 27th. The Preds answered back at home with a 5-2 win on December 16th. The two final games needed more than 60 minutes to decide. On January 11th, in a solid back and forth game in Smashville, the Preds won 5-4 on a Matt Duchene overtime winner on the power play and they then closed the season series with a 5-4 shootout win in Colorado on April 28th.
The playoffs are a completely different animal though and without Juuse Saros, the Predators don’t have a shot in hell at winning this series. At most they may steal a game away with the electric crowd in Smashville, but I’d expect the Avalanche to quickly win this series in five games or even sweep the Preds. The Avs are going to score at ease against David Rittich. Colorado’s an insane -625 favorite to win this series which you can’t bet and even for them to win in six games or less is -278. I will go with a unit each on the Avs to win in five games or less, to win exactly 4-1 and to sweep.
The Avs could definitely win the Cup but there’s zero value in betting them at an abysmal +275 price. Better off just playing them series by series and game by game.
For Game 1, the moneyline at -335 is too expensive for me on Colorado, who should easily win at home. I’ll go with 1.5 units on the Avs TT over 4, a unit on the Avs in regulation and half a unit on the over.
1u Avalanche in five games or less (-117)
1u Avalanche win series 4-1 (+230)
1u Avalanche win series 4-0 (+290)
Game 1 Bets
1.5u Avalanche TT over 4 (-141)
1u Avalanche in regulation (-195)
.5u Avalanche/Predators over 6.5 (-134)
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