NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs. Oilers

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Avalanche vs. Oilers article feature image

John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev

  • The Oilers host the Avalanche in a rematch from last year's postseason.
  • While both these teams were expecting big things this season, not all has gone according to plan.
  • Ryan Dadoun breaks down this matchup and offers up his best bet below.

Avalanche vs. Oilers Odds

Avalanche Odds-104
Oilers Odds-115
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

If the regular season ended today, Edmonton would barely squeak into the postseason as a wild card squad while Colorado would fall just short of a playoff berth. That'd be a surprising outcome given that the Oilers and Avalanche faced off against each other in the 2022 Western Conference Final. However, neither team has had the campaign it was hoping for.

Injuries have been a factor in both team's rocky play, but is that the only issue? These are two teams that warrant a closer look as we gauge who might have an edge in Saturday's contest.

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Colorado Avalanche

Colorado has had more than its fair share of injury troubles this season, and the Avalanche still aren't completely out of the woods. Forwards Gabriel Landeskog (knee), Valeri Nichushkin (ankle) and Evan Rodrigues (upper body), defensemen Bowen Byram (lower body) and Josh Manson (lower body) as well as goaltender Pavel Francouz (lower body) are among those who probably won't face the Oilers. Those are some significant players who are absent, but even still, the Avalanche's struggles are troubling.

They have lost five straight games to fall to 19-15-3, and are tied for 25th offensively with 2.86 goals per game after finishing 2021-22 ranked fourth with 3.76 goals per game. Colorado isn't trending in the right direction either, having been held to two goals in each of its past three contests.

Colorado doesn't have any one forward who has dramatically underperformed, but at the same time, it's telling that Mikko Rantanen is the only Avalanche player with at least 10 goals. To put that into context, going into Friday's action, 135 different players had hit the 10-goal mark, an average of 4.2 per team. The fact that Colorado has roughly 25% the number of double-digit goal scorers as the league average makes it easy to see why the Avalanche's offense has been lackluster.

Unsurprisingly, that's largely because of injuries. For example, if MacKinnon hadn't missed 11 games already this season, he'd have crossed that milestone. Though that's not the whole story. Sticking with MacKinnon for a moment, he's shooting at 6.7% this season, down from 10.7% in 2021-22 and his career average of 9.9%, so while he's still been great while healthy, in that one respect he's been struggling.

There's a few other cases like that. J.T. Compher, who had 18 goals in 70 games last season, has contributed seven in 37 contests in 2022-23, putting him below last season's pace despite the fact that his average ice time has jumped from 16:19 to 20:13. Defensemen Cale Makar and Devon Toews have also seen their goal-scoring paces slide, giving the Avalanche a bit less punch from the blueline.

None of these players are doing poorly, but when you marry those minor declines with the rash of injuries, not to mention the loss of Nazem Kadri, the problem becomes glaring.

To make matters even worse, starting goaltender Alexandar Georgiev is going through a rough patch. He had been one of the Avalanche's top players, posting a 15-6-2 record, 2.36 GAA and a .925 save percentage in 23 contests through Dec. 23, but he's endured a terrible stretch with a 0-4-1 record, 4.37 GAA and a .869 save percentage.

Georgiev might start again Saturday. That's potentially a recipe for disaster given the weapons Edmonton features.

Edmonton Oilers

Speaking of injuries, Edmonton is missing Evander Kane (wrist), but even though he hasn't played since Nov. 8, the Oilers rank third offensively with 3.55 goals per game. Anyone with even a passing interest in hockey knows the main reason for that: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

It's hard to undersell those two forwards. Draisaitl already has 22 goals and 60 points in 38 games. He's hit the 110-point milestone twice in his career, but it's entirely feasible for him to do even better in 2022-23.

And yet, he's a distant second in the scoring race to McDavid, who has 33 goals and 75 points in 40 contests this season. His 1.88 point-per-game pace is tied for the sixth-best of any player since 1990-91 (min. 10 games). The person he's tied with is himself from 2020-21. In fact, the only players who have enjoyed a single season scoring pace higher than him since 1990-91 are Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Adam Oates. Not bad company.

When we narrow the scope to just players from the salary cap era (2005-06 onward), no one else comes close to McDavid. Sidney Crosby (2011-12) ranks third with eight goals and 37 points in 22 contests, which translates to 1.68 points per game.

Okay, but you already knew McDavid and Draisaitl were amazing. Part of the trouble with the Oilers in recent years has been building a decent group of forwards around them. In that regard, Edmonton has done alright. Kane being injured is a major blow, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has contributed 19 goals and 48 points in 40 contests, while Zach Hyman has provided 18 goals and 42 points in 39 games. That gives Edmonton four players with over 15 markers.

This is still a team with some big flaws though. Signed to a five-year, $25-million contract over the summer, Jack Campbell hasn't worked out. In fact, even that statement is putting it generously, given his 3.69 GAA and .878 save percentage through 18 games. Campbell has perhaps turned a bit of a corner lately. He's posted a 2.50 GAA over his past five contests, which sounds great until you factor in his unappealing .899 save percentage over the same span.

The rise of Stuart Skinner has helped mitigate the problem too. Still, Skinner has only been decent, posting a 12-10-1 record, 2.88 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 24 games.

That's held Edmonton back from fully taking advantage of its star power.

Avalanche vs. Oilers Pick

This might be a game featuring some subpar goaltending. Seeing that, my mind went immediately to the over, and after finding out that FanDuel is offering -114 odds on over 6.5, I was immediately tempted.

With the odds of the over and Edmonton on the moneyline basically the same, I'll go with the over. Colorado has been underperforming, but the Avalanche aren't a bad team at their core. Mix that in with this being the first time these two squads have met since the Western Conference Final and we could be in for an intense contest.

Pick: Over 6.5 (-114) | Play to -125

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