NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs. Blackhawks
Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan MacKinnon.
- The Chicago Blackhawks are on a rare two-game winning streak, but can they keep the momentum going tonight against the Colorado Avalanche?
- The Avalanche are heavy favorites in this game, but after underachieving so far this season, are they overpriced?
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Avalanche vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Halfway through the season, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Avalanche sit outside of the playoff picture, four points behind the Oilers for the final wild card spot.
Colorado does have four games in hand to work with, one of which will come Thursday versus the lowly Chicago Blackhawks in what could be a perfect get-right spot.
The Avalanche have not displayed elite form to this point but are still priced as gigantic favorites at -300 to win this matchup. Find a preview and prediction for Avalanche vs. Blackhawks below.
Colorado has fought through arguably the NHL’s worst injury situation to this point. The Avalanche do not rank first in man games lost, but the quality of the players who have missed significant amounts of time is extremely high.
Several key pieces such as former league MVP Nathan MacKinnon are now back in the lineup, and it is past the point where Colorado’s injury situation is a valid excuse. It’s time for last year’s Stanley Cup champs to click into a higher gear, which has been noted by coach Jared Bednar.
It is certainly fair to say that Colorado is not playing up to its lofty potential recently, even factoring in the remaining absences. Things would look much better if the Avalanche were scoring at a more standard rate.
Colorado has shot just 7.42% over the last 10 games, which has hidden a breakeven control of the overall play at even strength (50.37% xGF).
Breakeven control of play at even strength is far below the standard in Colorado however, and even with Bowen Byram and Val Nichushkin still sidelined, the talent remaining on the roster should be capable of far more.
Alexandar Georgiev is Colorado’s projected starting goaltender in this matchup. Georgiev has played to a +7.0 Goals Saved Above Expected rating and .914 save percentage in 30 appearances.
Can the Blackhawks Extend Their Win Streak?
In an extremely competitive race for last place in the NHL this season, which would offer the highest chance to draft Connor Bedard, Chicago is putting together a really impressive run.
Chicago sits last in the league with just 24 points in 39 games and a horrific -58 Goal Differential, even after a surprisingly strong start to the year.
The Blackhawks enter this matchup in the midst of a rare two-game win streak. However, it’s very evident that those two outings do not offer much actual indication that any sort of a turnaround in form is on the horizon.
Chicago managed a 2-0 win as rested hosts over the Coyotes, who have been in similarly treacherous form themselves and played the night previous.
The Blackhawks then bested the Flames 4-3 in overtime Sunday, but getting to the 3-on-3 coin flip was incredibly lucky considering the way that game was actually contested.
Over the last 10 games, Chicago has played to an xGF% of 41.23, which is simply par for the course with the talent on hand.
To make matters worse, Patrick Kane is currently sidelined, which leaves an NHL-worst offense, which has generated just 2.21 goals per game, down a key piece.
Goaltender Alex Stalock has quietly been a rare bright spot for Chicago this season, but the Blackhawks have already confirmed Petr Mrazek will start in this matchup.
The difference in splits between the two has been night and day, as Stalock has played to a +6.3 GSAx rating and .923 save percentage, while Mrazek owns a -12.1 GSAx and .878 save percentage.
Avalanche vs. Blackhawks Pick
Everybody in the Avs locker room seems to be aware that the desperation level has clearly been lacking at times, but it also seems that some of the narratives surrounding this team are also being driven by poor luck in front of goal.
My belief is Colorado will still prove to be a legitimate cup contender down the stretch this season, which is far from a hot take. This sets up as a perfect time for the Avalanche to get back on track, and we should expect a notably urgent effort.
It’s hard to see how Colorado’s elite stars will not expose a very shoddy Chicago roster in this matchup, and this sets up as a great spot for a desperate Avalanche side to claim two direly needed points.
If Colorado plays at its highest level, it will take a lot of puck-luck for Chicago to hang around in this one, and backing the Avalanche to cover the puck line down to -140 projects to hold value.