NHL Betting Picks: Predators vs. Avalanche Game 1 Odds & Preview (May 3)

NHL Betting Picks: Predators vs. Avalanche Game 1 Odds & Preview (May 3) article feature image

Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.

  • The Avalanche are heavy home favorites it Game 1 against the Predators on Tuesday.
  • With starting goaltender Juuse Saros out, do the Preds have a chance of pulling the upset after winning the regular-season series?
  • Jonny Lazarus breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Predators vs. Avalanche Game 1 Odds

Predators Odds+240
Avalanche Odds-300
Series MoneylineNSH +475/COL -700
Time9:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Colorado Avalanche come into this series as a heavy favorites, and rightfully so, but the Nashville Predators might deserve some more credit considering that they went 3-1-0 against the Avs in the regular-season series.

Most people are counting the Predators out in this series for two reasons. First, the Avalanche offense has been dominant all season long. Second, the Preds will be missing their starting goaltender, Juuse Saros, for the beginning of this series due to an injury.

However, the Avalanche will also be missing some key members as their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, and their third-leading scorer, Nazem Kadri, could both miss Game 1.

The key to success for the Predators will be weathering the storm in the first period. The Avs were the fourth-best offensive team in the regular season, averaging 3.76 goals per game, and they were the second-best team at generating offense, averaging 12.6 chances per game.

The Avalanche are going to come out buzzing, and if the Predators can shut them down defensively in the first twenty minutes, they should compete and hold their own.

The Predators have not only shown that they can play with the Avalanche in the regular season, but they can actually beat them.

By The Numbers

If the numbers say anything, it is clear that the Avalanche are the better team in this series, but the thing about the NHL playoffs is that the better team doesn't always win. That being said, the Avalanche come into this postseason a more experienced team after learning the hard way last year about how difficult it is to put teams away.

The Avs may have gone 1-1-2 against the Predators in the regular season, but they dominated three of those four games and just couldn't get the bounces. The Avalanche will be the more dominant team in this series, and it will come down to how well the Predators can contain them.

StatNashville PredatorsColorado Avalanche
Goals For per 60 minutes (5-on-5)2.53
Goals Against per 60 (5-on-5)2.42.4
Expected Goals per 60 (5-on-5)2.32.6
Expected Goals Against per 60 (5-on-5)2.32.4
High-Danger Scoring Chances per 60 (5-on-5)1011.3
High-Danger Scoring Chances Allowed per 60 (5-on-5)9.611.3
Power Play %24.6%24.4%
Penalty Kill %79%79.2%
Save Percentage (projected starting goalie).891.920
Goals Saved Above Expectation (projected starting goalie)-6.98+15.8

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.

Can David Rittich Step Up in Goal for Nashville?

The Predators have relied upon Juuse Saros all season, and they will now be forced to go with their backup David Rittich. Rittich hasn't had much playing time this season as he has skated to a 6-3-4 record with an unimpressive .886 save percentage, a 3.57 GAA and a -7.5 GSAx.

The Predators weren't necessarily the best defensive team this season, even with Saros in net, allowing 3.05 goals against per game (17th in defensive proficiency). In four games this season, the Avalanche scored a total of 16 goals against them.

The Preds don't want to get into an offensive battle with the Avs, so they are going to have to really tighten up defensively and help out Rittich as much as they can.

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The Avalanche Need To Finish Their Chances

The Colorado Avalanche arguably have the most offensive firepower in the entire National Hockey League as they had four players finish with more than 80 points: Mikko Rantanen (92), Nathan MacKinnon (88), Nazem Kadri (87) and Cale Makar (86).

Not only were the Avalanche the fourth-best team at 5-on-5 scoring, but one area in which they have a massive advantage over Nashville is the Power Play. The Avs converted on 24% of their man advantage opportunities (seventh), and the Predators penalty kill is going to have a lot to put up with.

This is an area where the Avs can exploit a weaker penalty kill, and in the regular-season matchups, the Avalanche converted on 5/17 of their Power-Play opportunities.

Predators vs. Avalanche Series & Game 1 Betting Summary

Most people in hockey have considered the Avalanche to be the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and that all starts in Game 1 against the Predators.

Nobody can deny how impressive the Predators were against them in the regular season, but a playoff series is a whole different kind of beast, especially when missing a starting goaltender. The Avalanche are so gifted offensively that people often forget how good Darcy Kuemper has been in goal for them this season. Kuemper finished with a 37-12-4 record, a .921 save percentage, and a 2.54 GAA along with a fifth-best +21 GSAx.

With Saros being out for at least the first two games of this series for the Predators, they might dig themselves into too big of a hole to come back from. This Avalanche team can really turn on the jets, and I am expecting them to come out buzzing in Game 1 after dropping four straight games in last year's playoffs to end their season.

I am washing away the regular season results as this is a brand new season. Nashville might win a game on home ice, but I do not see this series lasting more than five games without a healthy Saros in goal for Nashville. I like the Colorado Avalanche to win the series 4-1 at +225 or 4-0 at +375.

As far as Game 1 goes, this Avalanche team is ready to explode, and they have been waiting for this moment since the second they were knocked out of last year's playoffs.

The best value is on the Avalanche puck line, which currently sits at -120. They were so dominant on home ice in the regular season, going 32-5-4 at Ball Arena. Expect the Avs to set the tone here for a deep playoff run and win by a large margin.

Pick: Colorado Avalanche -1.5

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