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NHL Odds & Pick for Avalanche vs. Blues: St. Louis’ Desperation Won’t Be Enough (April 22)

NHL Odds & Pick for Avalanche vs. Blues: St. Louis’ Desperation Won’t Be Enough (April 22) article feature image

Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: The Colorado Avalanche celebrate.

  • Colorado returns to the ice following a week away due to a COVID-related shutdown.
  • While the Avalanche may be the best team in hockey, St. Louis is desperately trying to squeeze into the postseason as the fourth-place team from the West Division.
  • Pete Truszkowski explains why the layoff won't affect the Avalanche much.

Avalanche vs. Blues Odds

Avalanche Odds -136
Blues Odds +116
Over/Under 6
Time Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via DraftKings.

The NHL’s best team is back in action after over a week off the ice due to a COVID-related shutdown. After defeating the St. Louis Blues on April 14th, the Colorado Avalanche will return to the ice for the first time since then on Thursday against those same Blues. 

While Colorado will look to sharpen their game and get back in the swing of things before the playoffs, the Blues are in a dog fight just to get into the postseason. The Blues sit just behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes, but they do have four games in hand. 

Will the Avs be able to pick up where they left off, or are the desperate Blues worth a look as home underdogs?

Colorado Avalanche

In the 20 games prior to being shut down, the Colorado Avalanche went 17-1-2. Many had the Avalanche pegged as Stanley Cup favorites prior to the season, and they were showing why they were so highly regarded. The week off might cool the team down a bit, but they aren’t a team I’d like to step in front of. 

The advanced metrics support the notion that Colorado is the best team in the league. Their 59.1% expected goal rate is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league with Toronto’s 55.3% rate being the second best. Colorado ranks first in shot attempt share and second in high danger chance percentage. 

The Avalanche lead the league in goals per hour at 5-on-5. Unfortunately, they will be without Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi in this game. However, with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri, Brandon Saad and Andre Burakovsky, there’s still plenty of forwards on this team who can do damage. 

Colorado is known for its offensive firepower, but the team defense might be its biggest strength. Colorado ranks second in expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5, and they are fifth best in terms of goals against at even strength. Cale Makar, Samuel Girard and Devon Toews are three elite two-way puck moving defensemen. 

Goaltending might be a short-term concern for the Avs as Philipp Grubauer has tested positive for COVID-19. Colorado will rely on the newly acquired duo of Devan Dubnyk and Jonas Johansson in the interim to backstop the team. Dubnyk struggled with the San Jose Sharks this season. However, there’s hope for a turnaround with his new team. Johansson posted an .884 save percentage with the Buffalo Sabres, but since arriving in Colorado, he’s posted a .929 mark. 

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St. Louis Blues

It’s been a disappointing season for the St. Louis Blues. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, the team had a poor showing in the bubble last season. Coming into this season, they were viewed as a clear top-three team in the division but that hasn’t come to fruition. St. Louis has a 19-18-6 record and sits on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Many across the hockey world still think the Blues will wake up and qualify for the postseason. Some even think they can make noise in the playoffs should they get there. However, if you look under the hood, there’s reason for concern. 

St. Louis’ 47.2% expected goal rate ranks amongst the bottom 10 of the league. They rank 21st in shot attempt share and 26th in high danger chance percentage. The Blues have not done a good job of playing with the puck or generating shot attempts. 

Defensively, the Blues rank seventh in terms of expected goals against per hour. Despite this, they rank 18th in goals against per hour at 5-on-5. They are giving up 10.4 high danger chances per 60, which is middle of the pack as well. Jordan Binnington has been unspectacular for the Blues in net, posting a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) of -2. 

Offensively, it’s been a real struggle for the Blues. St. Louis ranks dead last in expected goals scored and 24th in goals per hour at 5-on-5. They rank 28th in high danger chances created. David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly have done their part, but the team has not gotten enough production from players such as Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn have slowed down tremendously after strong starts to the season. 

Avalanche vs. Blues Best Bet

There’s a lot of factors to assess when handicapping this game. Many will point to the extended absence for the Avalanche as a potential negative, but the Blues have not played a game since Saturday themselves. Rust should be an issue for both teams in this contest. 

This is the sixth time these teams will meet this season, with the Avalanche winning four of the first five. St. Louis has not beaten Colorado since opening night. The Avalanche have had the advantage this season, but they’ll be shorthanded without a top line winger and starting goaltender. 

Colorado, in my opinion, is the best team in the league. We get them at a fair price here due to the uncertain circumstances and their key absences. The Blues’ desperation level is also priced in here. However, the Blues have been playing important games for a few weeks now and have not risen to the occasion.

It’s rare we see the Avalanche as reasonable favorites. At this price, I’ll back the best team in the league against a team that hasn’t put it together yet this season. 

Pick: Avalanche ML -136 (bet up to -140)

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