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NHL Betting Odds & Pick: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild (Sunday, Jan. 31)

NHL Betting Odds & Pick: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild (Sunday, Jan. 31) article feature image

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Bowen Byram

  • The Minnesota Wild host the Colorado Avalanche for some Sunday night NHL action.
  • The Wild are good enough defensively to handle the Avs' star-studded attack and should have the edge in goal.
  • Michael Leboff previews Sundays matchup and shares his betting analysis below.

Avalanche vs. Wild Odds

Avalanche Odds -157
Wild Odds +135
Over/Under 5.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds as of Saturday night and via DraftKings.

The Colorado Avalanche took it to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night. Not only did the Avs win the game, 5-1, but they attempted 30 more shots, created four more high-danger scoring chances and won the expected goals battle, 2.77 to 1.63 at all situations (per MoneyPuck). It was a comprehensive victory for Colorado, but the Avalanche were also handed seven power plays and converted on two of them. Things were a lot tighter at 5-on-5.

After closing as -152 favorites on Saturday night, the Avs opened in the same range on Sunday night.

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Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche came into the season as the sole favorite to win the 2021 Stanley Cup and after a 3-3 start cooled some of the hype, the Avs have won three games in a row and now sit atop the West Division, though they have played more games than the teams chasing them.

Even though the Avalanche are 6-3-0, they haven’t really been tested all that much yet. They split a two-game series with the Blues to start the season and then followed that up with two-game sets with the Kings, Ducks and Sharks before heading to Minnesota to take on the Wild. It would be pretty shocking if the Avs were sitting any worse than 6-3 in their first nine contests.

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 Natural Stat Trick.

Under the hood things look good, though not dominant. The Avalanche have a 54.5% xG rate, but they are middle-of-the-pack in terms of creating scoring chances at 5-on-5. That’s really no big deal because Colorado has enough individual talent to outscore its expected goals, but it is worth noting that the Avs aren’t imposing their will on a nightly basis. In fact, a lot of Colorado’s success can be chalked up to its special teams. The Avalanche are over 30% on the power play and are leading the league with a 90.9% success rate on the penalty kill.

That may sound harsh on the Avs, who have looked unplayable at times already this season, but when you’re the Cup Favorites the expectations are high and I don’t think it’s unfair to say we haven’t seen the consistent dominance that was expected of this team.

Minnesota Wild

It’s still early, but the Minnesota Wild seem like they have established themselves as the fourth-best team in the West Division. Minnesota’s 5-4-0 record may not pop off the page, but its statistical portfolio sure does. Prior to their game on Saturday night, the Wild led the NHL with a 68.1% high-danger scoring chance share and were second in the league with a 57.7% expected goals rate.

Minnesota is no stranger to posting mediocre results despite strong underlying metrics, but the team is hoping this season will be different thanks to the upgrade the Wild made in goal with Cam Talbot coming in and Devan Dubnyk heading out.

Once again it is Minnesota’s defense that is driving the bus, as the Wild rank second in high-danger chances allowed and third in expected goals allowed, but the offense has been doing its part, creating 2.4 expected goals for per 60 minutes so far this season.

Avalanche-Wild Pick

I think the Wild are live underdogs on Sunday night. Not only are the Wild good enough defensively to handle Colorado’s star-studded attack, but Minnesota should have a decent edge in goal. The Avs started Philipp Grubauer on Saturday, so they will likely turn to No. 3 goaltender Hunter Miska on Sunday since Pavel Francouz is still out. The Wild will likely roll with Cam Talbot after he backed up Kaapo Kahkonen in the first game of the back-to-back.

As long as its Miska vs. Talbot in goal, I like the Wild at +135 or better. That said, this number may tick up considering the Avs pumped Minnesota on Saturday and casual bettors will likely gravitate towards the Stanley Cup Favorites on Sunday night.

Pick: Minnesota +135 or better

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