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Wednesday NHL Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Avalanche vs. Coyotes Game 1 Preview (Aug. 12)

Wednesday NHL Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Avalanche vs. Coyotes Game 1 Preview (Aug. 12) article feature image

Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Gabriel Landeskog.

  • Check out our betting preview for Wednesday's NHL matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes in Game 1 of their first-round series.
  • Sam Hitchcock is so confident in Colorado's offensive abilities that he is eschewing the Avalanche's -180 moneyline, opting instead for the +150 puck line.
  • Check out his full betting preview below for odds, picks, and comprehensive analysis.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes Odds

Looking for Monday’s Game 4? Click here.

Avalanche Odds -180 [BET NOW]
Coyotes Odds +150 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 [BET NOW]
Time 5:30 p.m. ET

Odds via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Successful Stanley Cup runs are achieved when a team’s collective will and skill triumph over adversity. But that depiction ignores how matchups can dictate the final outcome.

For the Colorado Avalanche, a first-round matchup against the Arizona Coyotes provides a chance for a hasty dismissal of an inferior foe. Minimal wear on players and precious time to rest could be the reward.

From a betting perspective, the implications are intriguing because the Avalanche are as good a bet to easily rout their opponent as any team in the first round.

Colorado Avalanche

Against the Vegas Golden Knights in the final game of the round robin, the Avalanche confirmed that this team has the versatility and mental makeup to win the Cup this year.

Despite losing 4-3 in overtime, Colorado bested Vegas in the expected goals battle and generated more shots on goal at 5-on-5. Few questioned the Avs’ offensive dynamism. Zooming in, that contest reinforced that the Avs’ defense held at bay a Golden Knights offense that was dominant during the regular season.

All of this spells trouble for the Coyotes, especially when it comes to their defense confronting the Avalanche’s offense. In the round robin, the Avs played a trio of teams that had top-10 defenses in the regular season and registered impressive numbers.

At 5-on-5, Colorado submitted a sparkling 2.51 expected goals and 38.64 shots per 60 minutes against the three top teams in the West.

Even with their battery of shooters, the Avs finished the round robin with a shooting percentage below 8. But this low percentage does not reflect a lack of quality in shots as the Colorado had a 53.33 high-danger chances percentage, the best of any team in the round-robin group from the West.

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 cited from Evolving Hockey.

Colorado is primed to kick down the doors against an Arizona defense that is powerless against attacks with the slightest headwinds.

If the Coyotes pull the same shenanigans against the Avalanche that they did against the Predators they could be swept. Their defensemen floundered against Nashville in a pronounced way. At 5-on-5, the Coyotes’ top defensive pairing of Jason Demers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson submitted a staggering 50.32 shots against per hour.

Arizona’s second pairing of Alex Goligoski and Niklas Hjalmarsson were even worse with 53.31 shots against per 60 minutes. That seems impossibly bad. Inflaming matters, it just so happens that MacKinnon has the highest shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 of any player still alive in the playoffs.

The Coyotes’ defense trying to stop Nathan MacKinnon is a bit like trying to halt a bull with tissue paper. But it isn’t just MacKinnon. Against Vegas, the Andre Burakovsky-J.T. Compher-Joonas Donskoi line produced a goal and had the best expected goals. Gabriel Landeskog has been matching up with opponents’ best forwards and thriving. The Avs are also receiving scoring from their defensemen.

Arizona Coyotes

During the regular season, the Coyotes trotted out a 2.24 goals against per 60 minutes, good for seventh in the NHL. But peek under the hood and that number conceals how leaky their defense was.

The Coyotes’ expected goals against per hour was 2.36, sandwiching them between the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers, two notoriously porous defenses.

Things have gotten markedly worse during the postseason. The Coyotes’ expected goals against per 60 minutes is 2.65. Had they posted that number during the regular season, it would have been the worst in the NHL.

What is especially troubling for the Coyotes is their lack of accountability with and without the puck. Take Game 3. They yielded two unacceptable goals to the Predators, although only one of them counted.

The first was a Christian Fischer turnover in the neutral zone that led to an odd-man rush that Viktor Arvidsson finished by pelting a one-timer by Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

The other was a Kyle Turris goal, which got waved off because Matt Duchene was offside. The Turris goal was enabled by sloppiness as Arizona’s Cody Keller and Conor Garland went for a line change in the middle of a Nashville rush, opening up a pocket for Turris to slip into.

It was startling to watch Nashville’s skaters knife through the Coyotes defense or float around the slot and swat at pucks without any resistance from Arizona’s defensemen. The Coyotes consistently struggled to pick up the Predators’ forwards who were skulking toward the net.

Kuemper was marvelous, but the Predators also did him a favor by shooting at the bottom half of the net where he feasts. He recorded a top-five Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) among goaltenders who played over 120 minutes.

Not coincidentally, Predators goaltender Juuse Saros registered the worst GSAx of any goaltender in the playoffs. Yes, Edmonton fans, even worse than Mike Smith. The Coyotes won the series with timely scoring and goaltending.

Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because every SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance. GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

What is frustrating about the Coyotes is the cognitive dissonance one experiences watching them. They sport a lineup that is crammed with accomplished players and high-draft pedigrees.

In beating the Predators, they had sequences that showcased fearsome ability. But those positive moments came too sporadically.

Betting Analysis

The Coyotes’ Inspector Clouseau act of bumbling into fortunate circumstances is poised to end abruptly against Colorado. The Avalanche have too much skill and depth, and their execution is too precise. The Avs scorers will carve out the time and space to whip shots just under the bar where Kuemper is weakest.

The Avalanche moneyline is -180 on DraftKings. That is a stiff price, so I’d beseech bettors to play the Avs’ puck line (meaning Colorado needs to win by 2 goals or more to win the bet) which is +150.

The argument for betting on the Avs’ puckline is simple: you have a rooting interest when they flex their offensive aptitude against a tractable Arizona team.

With the Coyotes at +150 to win outright, I am not even moved by the possible return of a rusty Nick Schmaltz for Game 1. But if he comes back and excels, it might be worth considering Arizona around Game 3 or 4 if the series is headed toward a sweep.

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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