NHL Odds, Picks & Predictions for Avalanche vs. Blues Game 4: Can Colorado Finish Sweep of St. Louis? (Sunday, May 23)
Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan MacKinnon.
- The Avalanche look to seal a first-round sweep of the Blues in Game 4 on Sunday.
- Colorado has dominated St. Louis so far, although it would be uncharacteristic of the Blues to go down without a fight.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down the betting value below, delivering his best bet for the game.
Avalanche vs. Blues Odds
|Time||Sunday, 5 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM|
The Colorado Avalanche have dominated the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 series lead, outscoring the Blues 15-5 through the first three games.
There has been at least one series to end in a sweep in the first round of the playoffs in 11 of the last 15 seasons. Over the last three seasons, teams with a 3-0 lead are 6-2 when attempting to close out a sweep.
Let’s break down whether bettors should back that to happen on Sunday in St. Louis.
What can be said about the Avalanche that hasn’t already been said? They have been phenomenal all season, winning the President’s Trophy with the best record in the NHL at 39-13-4 and 82 points during the regular season.
The Avalanche are incredibly balanced, leading the league in goals per game with 3.52 while also allowing the third fewest at just 2.36. They lead the league in xGF% (59.8) and High-Danger Chance% (59.3) and are just dominant in all possession metrics, leading the league in Corsi% and Fenwick%, as well.
It has been no different in this series so far. Colorado has outplayed St. Louis to a 63.35 xGoals% and a 75% actual goal advantage. The Avs are averaging 5.0 goals per game and are 3-for-9 on the power play.
Nathan MacKinnon is leaving no doubt that he is one of the elite players in the NHL. After finishing the regular season fourth in the league with 1.35 points per game after notching 65 points and 20 goals in 48 games, MacKinnon has elevated his game to an even greater level.
In 43 career playoff games, MacKinnon has tallied 61 points, and leads all active players with 1.42 points per game in the playoffs. In the three games already this postseason, he has tallied five goals and seven points and scored his first postseason hat trick in Game 2. Both MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog have an On-Ice Expected Goals% of 71.9%.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
St. Louis Blues
With 63 points during the regular season, only Montreal finished with fewer points among all the playoff teams this year. St. Louis limped through the entire season, and finished ranked just 26th in xGF% and 30th in High-Danger Chances for percentage.
The Blues’ roster is still full of 2019 Stanley Cup winners, including the likes of Jordan Binnington, Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and more. However, almost all of them had down seasons relative to their 2019 performances. Tarasenko and Schwartz are both without a point this series, and O’Reilly has just one assist through three games.
St. Louis dealt with guys going in and out of the lineup all season, and that has continued into the playoffs. Leading scorer David Perron was put on the COVID-19 list and appears likely to miss the entire series.
Goaltender Jordan Binnington has taken a step back since his breakout 2019. He finished the regular season 18-14-8 and had a .910 save percentage and 2.56 goals against average, both the worst marks in his three seasons in the NHL.
So far this postseason, Binnington has a 3.77 goals against average and .897 save percentage. He has -3.8 GSAx, the lowest of all playoff goaltenders.
Betting Analysis & Pick
It is easy to see a roster full of Stanley Cup Champions and expect St. Louis to put up enough of a fight to avoid being swept, especially at home. Maybe that will happen and they’ll win this game on sheer heart and desire alone.
But Colorado is just light years better than the Blues right now, as well as a horrible matchup for them.
St. Louis has had great success over the years playing to their identity of hard-nosed, physical, defensive first hockey. That style would have been a much better matchup for them against a team like Vegas, for example.
Colorado has skated circles around the Blues, who just do not have the speed to match up. The Avs’ top defensive pair of Cale Makar and Devon Toews are two of the best skaters and most dynamic defenseman in the league and have played to a 67.7 xGoals%.
MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen fly around the ice and nobody on St. Louis has the skating ability to contain them or slow them down.
I am sure St. Louis will not go down without a fight, but the Avalanche just have too much firepower to slow down, so I like Colorado to complete the sweep.
With their season on the line, the Blues will likely get more aggressive late, taking chances on offense and pulling the goalie sooner. The Avs have won each game by at least three goals and I like them to cover the puck line once again.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche -1.5 (+115)