NHL Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Preview for Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues Game 3 (Friday, May 21)

NHL Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Preview for Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues Game 3 (Friday, May 21) article feature image

Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mikko Rantanen

  • The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues face off on Friday in a pivotal Game 3 matchup during Round 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • There's little doubt that Colorado ranks among hockey's elite teams, but did St. Louis show enough grit in Game 2 to warrant a moneyline wager at depressed odds?
  • Below, find Michael Leboff's NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs betting guide for Avalanche vs. Blues, Game 3 on Friday, May 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Avalanche vs. Blues Game 3 Odds

Avalanche Odds-220
Blues Odds+185
TimeFriday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via DraftKings.

The Colorado Avalanche overwhelmed the St. Louis Blues through the first four periods of the teams' best-of-7 series. The Avs, NHL juggernauts and the clear Stanley Cup favorites, pummeled the Blues in Game 1 and were actually a bit unlucky to only win 4-1. It looked like a similar script would unfold in Wednesday's Game 2 matchup: Colorado outshot the Blues, 18-6, in the first period. If it wasn't for Jordan Binnington's heroics, the game would have been out of hand in the opening 10 minutes.

Did St. Louis Find Its Footing in Game 2?

Whereas in Game 1 the Blues never really found an avenue into the fight, Game 2 played out differently. St. Louis came out as an improved bunch in the second period and began to tilt the ice. It was too little, too late, and perhaps the score effects caused Colorado to pace itself, but the Blues were definitely the better team for the second and third period on Wednesday night. According to MoneyPuck, St. Louis deserved to win that game nearly 63% of the time.

Now, the question must be asked: Should we expect more of the same from St. Louis in Game 3? At +175 you're not expecting the Blues to win the game, but rather to drag the Avs deep into the contest and give themselves a chance to win.

So, can the Blues build on their performance in the second half of Game 2 and hang with the Avalanche in Game 3? It's a daunting question to answer — and it certainly takes some pluck to bet on St. Louis — but the price is tempting.

The Avalanche Are Deserving Favorites

Now, it's time to play devil's advocate: The Blues' odds are as long as they are for a legitimate reason. The Avalanche were far-and-away the best team in the NHL in 2021. Colorado led the circuit in 5-on-5 goal differential, expected goals rate, goals per game (at 5-on-5 and overall) and finished a measly third in goals allowed. St. Louis was below average (or worse) in basically every one of those metrics. The Blues survived the season thanks to a weak division and the individual talent it has on their roster.

All of these numbers, plus the 10-4 aggregate scoreline will likely add up to bettors flocking to the Avalanche on the moneyline, puckline and in parlays. In other words, this number could still go up as we get closer to puck drop on Friday night.

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.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Avalanche vs. Blues Best Bet

Admittedly, I've been higher on the Blues than I should have been throughout this season. This team is not all that different from the one that won the Stanley Cup in 2019 and posted the best record in the Western Conference in 2019-20. The Blues' system, combined with their talented roster and star goaltender, led me to believe that this team had a higher ceiling than they had shown. That hypothesis never really panned out, and I expect St. Louis to eventually go down not with a bang — but a whimper. Still, there's reason to back this team at these odds, even against the best team in the NHL.

The Blues found their footing in Game 2, skating to a 1.25 to 0.56 expected goals advantage and had a 6-1 edge in high-danger scoring chances in the second and third periods. Those 40 minutes certainly don't make up for a season's worth of stats that paint this as a mismatch, but they do make this number interesting.

Winning this bet will require another monster effort from Jordan Binnington, but the fiery goaltender appears locked-in, and it looked like his teammates finally joined him during Game 2.

Everything in this matchup is pointing to the Avalanche — and when that is the case, it usually means that prices get inflated. While acknowledging that this type of bet isn't for everyone, I do think it's Blues or nothing at this price.

At +185, you're only asking the Blues to win this game about 35.2% of the time. With Binnington in form and the team showing some signs of life in Game 2, I think they check that box.

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