Jake Shapiro breaks down the Avs’ Stanley Cup chances game-by-game as we look ahead to the long-awaited restart in NHL action.
The Colorado Avalanche have their best chance to win Lord Stanley’s Cup in over 15 years. It will be tougher than the already grueling Stanley Cup Playoffs but the NHL is returning with a unique format.
When play was halted the Avs were second in the west, only behind the St. Louis Blues. The two teams, along with the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars, will face off in a round-robin for seeding, while the 5-12 teams in the west will play best-of-five play-in series to face off against the top 4.
Aug. 2 St. Louis – OTL
The reigning Stanley Cup champs were having a strong year. Their matchups with Colorado were split with each team getting two regulation wins. Defensive phenom Cale Makar has missed practice in the past few days and it is unknown what his issue is. His absence would tip the scales towards the Blues. If not, the Avs youth may have gotten even better with their time to self reflect.
Aug. 5 Dallas – OTL
For whatever reason, the Avs have blown a few big leads against the Stars. Epic collapses in Denver that cost Colorado points around Christmas. The Avs have yet to beat the Stars, and now that head coach Rick Bowness has had some time with his group following Jim Montgomery’s December dismissal the Stars may be a sexy pick this summer.
Aug. 8 Vegas – W
Colorado has blown past the Golden Knights in their matchups. The two like to play fast-paced games and that’s where the Avalanche really light it up. Very few teams have the skill players that the Avs do so look for this contest to be high scoring, particularly since teams will have their legs under them three games in.
How to Approach Colorado From a Betting Perspective
Betting on a club with one of its big players currently not practicing is a risk. You may want to wait until closer to puck drop to see how healthy the Avs are.
Colorado led the west in goals before play was stopped. They’re always a good bet to hit the over. Particularly with defenses normally lagging a bit behind in terms of cohesion after a layoff. The Avs on defense rely on their defenders, not their goaltender, which will force Philipp Grubauer to have some big games. Grubauer is capable of this but he’s an up and down goaltender and it is not the position where the Avs are strongest.
One other thing to look for is that the Avs were one of the best road teams in the NHL this season with a 24-11-2 record. They are strong away from the Pepsi Center and should have no issues adjusting to Edmonton. By the way, the Avs are one of the few teams that will be playing the rest of their slate—the cup will be hoisted in Edmonton this season—in their home time zone.
Only Tampa Bay, Boston and Vegas have higher Cup odds than the boys in burgundy – meaning Colorado is the favorite out west. If you’re betting on the Avs, you must see Gabriel Landeskog poised to lift the Cup and hand it off to Erik Johnson in a moment that would be just as special in Denver as when Joe Sakic did that with Ray Bourque.
There may be no finer player in hockey than Nathan MacKinnon, who was just nominated for the Hart Trophy—hockey’s MVP. The speedy 24-year-old put up 13 points in 12 playoff games last year and is a career over one point a game player in the playoffs.
Ultimately it probably won’t come down to MacKinnon or Landeskog but Colorado’s second and third lines. Will Andre Burakovsky keep his hot season alive? Can Mikko Rantanen be a point a game guy as he was all year? And how will Colorado benefit from Nazem Kadri’s experience? These are questions but look for Makar and Samuel Girard’s production from the back to be a big difference-maker. And a player people should have eyes on is Joonas Donskoi, who once scored six goals in one postseason while playing for San Jose.