NHL Odds, Pick, Preview: Avalanche vs. Blues (Oct. 28)

NHL Odds, Pick, Preview: Avalanche vs. Blues (Oct. 28) article feature image

Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado Avalanche standout Cale Makar.

  • The Colorado Avalanche take on the St. Louis Blues in Thursday's NHL action.
  • The Blues are off to an unbeaten 5-0 start, but they’ll face their stiffest test yet in the Avalanche.
  • Nicholas Martin dives deep into this affair below and delivers his top selection.

Avalanche vs. Blues Odds

Avalanche Odds-121
Blues Odds+100
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

St. Louis has come flying out of the gates to a franchise-best 5-0 start, but Thursday could pose its toughest test yet as it hosts the Colorado Avalanche with its captain sidelined for a battle between two Central Division contenders.

The Blues have seen contributions from up and down the lineup, and look the part of a team ready to make more noise this spring than we saw during a four-game dismantling at the hands of the Avalanche last May.

St. Louis got the better of the Colorado via a 5-3 win in Denver to get their season started, but will the team be able to extract another crucial victory and pad its division lead with some crucial pieces having found their way onto the COVID-19 protocol list?

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche certainly haven't hit full stride in the early going this season, and have offered some legitimate cause for concern during their 2-4 start, although some underlying numbers suggest that they could trend upwards.

With Devon Toews sidelined and Ryan Graves in New Jersey, Colorado has defensively regressed in the early going in comparison to the last campaign. Jack Johnson has been forced into playing meaningful minutes and has been a large concern on the back end.

Additional cause for the slow start has been some lesser play from Norris candidate Cale Makar. He has just a 45.7 xGF% in the early going, enduring some shaky moments on the defensive side. However I think we can safely assume that won't continue long term, as the 22-year-old phenom is simply far too talented not to dominate on average.

Same goes for this Avalanche offense, which boasts some excellent depth beyond the top trio of Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. The second line contributed a lot of chances during a hard-luck loss to Vegas on Tuesday as well, in which Colorado won the expected-goals battle, but ultimately put just one in after a great performance from Robin Lehner and some tough bounces off the posts.

Even with the changes on the back end showing some early issues, I still feel this Avalanche roster is simply far too talented not to outright dominate this season, even as they await the return of Toews to the back end.

Thursday will be a huge opportunity to show who the Avs really are this season as they face a Blues team that already dominated them once. Plus, Colorado is coming off that home loss to a Vegas outfit which sent them packing last spring.

St. Louis Blues

The Blues have seen positive play in all areas during their 5-0 start, scoring an absurd average of five goals per game, while winning each contest by multiple goals.

However, the Blues have only created 2.61 xGF/60, and obviously you're not going to average five goals per game to begin with, so we can very realistically expect some offensive regression on that front. On top of that, St. Louis has only controlled play to an xGF% of 49.76 altogether, so it does appear due for somewhat lesser results.

Yet, the sheer amount of guys who have gotten in on the act is a huge positive for Blues fans and possibly none more uplifting than Vladimir Tarasenko. The former 40-goal scorer has shown very well in the early going, racking up six points in five outings, including a spectacular tally Monday versus Los Angeles.

St. Louis has started with a league best 93.8% penalty kill as well, which has come behind some solid goaltending to begin the season.

Jordan Binnington should draw the start Thursday, with Ville Husso having played Monday against the Kings. Binnington's play has gone as another reason for optimism for the Blues, due to the fact he has posted a .919 save percentage and 1.9 goals saved above expected through four contests.

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Avalanche vs Blues Pick

Colorado posted otherworldly results during last year's Presidents Trophy campaign. And although there seems to be some legitimate causation toward the team's defensive struggles in the early going, to think this group will stay averaging 2.50 goals per outing with a .333% win percentage for long this year would be foolish.

I'm willing to look past the short-term results and I feel this sets up as a good spot to back the Avalanche at a closer price than we will likely see down the line. I'm taking that into specific consideration the Blues will be playing without O'Reilly and Brandon Saad, and that St. Louis already appears a very likely candidate for some overall regression.

Undoubtedly, Ryan O'Reilly is a massive loss for the Blues in this contest, as the excellent two-way center and former Selke trophy winner is relied upon heavily to handle all situations. The team certainly doesn't match up nearly as well with the powerhouse Avalanche without him and will have a harder time shutting down one of the hockey's top units in the MacKinnon- Landeskog-Rantanen line.

If Samuel Girard, who is day-to-day, can end up skating in this contest, I will take that as a big boost to Colorado's back end, but I still see value with backing the visiting side at -130 and would play it to -145 odds.

Pick: Colorado ML (-130 | play to -145)

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