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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs. Devils Should be High-Scoring (October 28)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs. Devils Should be High-Scoring (October 28) article feature image
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Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jesper Bratt.

Avalanche vs. Devils Odds

Avalanche Odds -145
Devils Odds +120
Over/Under 6.5 (-125o/+105u)
Time Friday | 7 p.m. ET
TV MSGSN
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

For believers of hockey’s underlying analytics being a meaningful indicator of essentially anything, the Devils‘ early play has been entirely eye-popping, even if a 4-3-0 record is quite modest in its own right.

New Jersey will have a big chance to really open some eyes with a result Friday night, as the defending champion Avalanche will head to town fresh off a hard-fought 3-2 shootout victory over the Rangers at MSG.

Can the Devils surprise the Avalanche at the Prudential Center Friday?

Avalanche on Cruise Control?

Colorado’s early play this season has been more or less exactly what one would expect, as surely the grind of an 82-game regular season is a little dull after winning it all late last June.

The Avalanche have not exactly looked completely engaged to start the campaign, yet have still played to a 4-2-1 record, and you could still see glimpses of how stellar this team is in its wins over elite teams thus far.

It’s a well known narrative among the league that when you’re the champs with a reputation like Colorado has, you’re always going to get every team’s very best outing, and I think we saw how that can weigh on a roster looking toward Tampa Bay’s last two regular seasons.

So evaluating what to expect from the Avalanche may at times be a little more difficult than others, as while all teams have off nights, it is very understandable to think at times Colorado’s urgency will not match that of its opponents.

In the early going, I believe that has been a part of Colorado’s modest 49.10% expected goals rate, a number which is entirely underwhelming with the talent on hand.

Led by two truly elite superstars in Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche still hold one of the league’s very best offenses, and are plenty deep even after seeing Nazem Kadri’s forced to depart due to the salary cap.

Colorado has played to the league’s top power-play success rate thus far this season at 50%, and the Avalanche’s unreal play with the man advantage will be a key factor to stealing some not entirely hard-fought points this season on nights where the team is outworked.

The Avalanche have a very modest goaltending tandem between Pavel Francouz and Alexandar Georgiev, which likely will not steal many games, but will not be asked to do so.

I think it was clear how Colorado’s sharper than average defensive play last season boosted former starter Darcy Kuemper’s results, and that likely was part of the Avalanche not deciding to pay up as the organization likely believed cheaper options could succeed behind this team.

It’s unclear which goaltender will draw the start for Colorado in this spot, and confirmation towards that should come at tomorrow’s morning skate.

However I do not believe the decision actually is relevant information handicapping wise, although in a small sample Georgiev’s +2.4 goals saved above expected rating is far beyond his partner’s mark of -1.9.

The Devils and the Details

New Jersey has consistently underachieved the results its excellent underlying numbers have suggested the last two seasons, and a 4-3-0 mark to start this year is actually still underwhelming considering the overall game play.

The Devils has played to the league’s top expected goals rate at 64.12%, and I would argue that that mark is entirely in line with what the eye test tells us about this team right now.

If there is a knack on the Devils’ early dominance, it is the notably easy slate of competition faced, as Washington are the only playoff team from 2021-22 the Devils have faced and may not even be a playoff side this season.

For the time being, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier are both healthy and comprise what is an excellent 1-2 punch down the middle, which is something essentially all elite rosters hold in common.

Winger Jesper Bratt seems to be taking his game up yet another level and has to have Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald hating himself for not getting an extension done this offseason.

The addition of John Marino on the back end is working wonders as well, and his stellar early play alongside Ryan Graves has the Devils second defensive pairing achieving spectacular early results.

However, the Devils’ all too familiar problem has shined through in the early going this season, as Vitek Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood have combined to a -7.3 goals saved above expected rating in just seven games thus far.

Vanecek is better than he has shown to this point with a poor -4.0 GSAx rating and an .833 save %, and I do expect a notable uptick from those lowly numbers moving forward, and that he is given a chance to follow up a solid game versus Detroit in this spot.

Avalanche vs. Devils Pick

This should be a spectacular matchup, and I’m very interested to see if the Devils are able to still control play at a high level against the defending  champs.

Colorado has proven to often be a high-event hockey club over the last two seasons, including a ridiculous run of wildly high scoring hockey in last season’s first two-thirds.

We likely will not see Colorado look to grind out 3-1/3-2 type wins too often this season even if they are very capable, and why should they with the talent on hand, knowing that’s a tough way to play 82 games when you don’t need to.

Offensively, the Devils have looked really strong, however, especially in transition, and I expect New Jersey to put up some offence in this contest and actually lean toward them as a side at this price.

It’s very easy to see why both these teams should generate some offence in this spot, and my expectation is we should be in a for a fun one, with the winning team likely managing five goals.

Pick: Over 6.5 -125 (Play 6.5 to -140)

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