Avalanche vs. Senators NHL Odds, Pick, Preview (Dec. 4)
Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nazem Kadri
- The Avalanche are favored in one of the biggest mismatches on paper possible against the Senators.
- Colorado has its eyes on the Stanley Cup, while Ottawa is looking toward the future.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting prediction.
Senators vs. Avalanche Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Ottawa returns home after stealing a victory in Carolina on Thursday night to finally snap a six-game skid. The Senators earned a 3-2 win behind Anton Forsberg's 47 saves against the shorthanded Canes.
Colorado bounced back after being embarrassed in Toronto Wednesday night with a sound 4-1 victory over the struggling Canadiens on Thursday, and will look to continue its climb up the Central division standings against the lottery-bound Senators.
Avalanche Sport Impressive Depth
Most concerning for the Avalanche is certainly not their record, which is somewhat underwhelming after a string of injuries to key players, but the fact that stellar young defensemen Bowen Byram is yet again missing time due to concussion symptoms.
Byram has suffered a number of concussions early in his career. It's certainly frustrating to see someone with sky-high potential so greatly limited, and after reports of what he went through with his previous concussion, you have to feel for him as an individual.
Colorado should have ample time to play it very safe with his return however, as even short his services, the defensive core features three of the league's very best in Devon Toews, Cale Makar and Samuel Girard.
Up front the Avalanche will happily welcome Nathan MacKinnon back, who fared better reunited on a line with Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog in Montreal, posting a 70.3 xGF% in 11 minutes together at 5-on-5 in the contest.
We know that top line is set to dominate when together this season, but what could be arguably be more frightening is the depth behind them on the second unit. Andre Burakovsky, Val Nichushkin and Nazem Kadri were dominant Thursday, with a 92.8 expected goals %, and four points in the 4-1 win.
Nichushkin is quietly sitting at almost a point per game when in the lineup this season on top of his stellar two-way play, totaling nine points in a small 10-game sample size, while Kadri has managed 30 points in 20 contests and moved to fourth in the league scoring race.
The Avalanche's win Thursday was their eighth in 11 contests, with all coming by two or more goals.
The main concern for the time being is the goaltending situation, as not only has Darcy Kuemper not been at the level you would prefer for a team with Cup-or-bust expectations, he is now day-to-day, leaving Jonas Johansson as the only viable option.
Johansson has stopped just .891 % of shots faced so far, with a -4.2 goals saved above expected rating (GSAx) and appears likely to start again Saturday should Kuemper not return.
Senators Have Eyes On The Future
Ottawa finally broke through with a win on Thursday after a streak of six straight losses, during which the team sported a -19 goal differential.
Including the data from Thursday's win, the Senators own the league's worst xGF% share at 38.93 over that seven-game span. The roster losses due to a tough COVID situation and postponements surely didn't help, but 38.93% is a shockingly low figure.
The Senators weren't likely to compete for a playoff spot in the tough Eastern conference picture, and a 75.5 points preseason points over/under total suggested that, so more concerning from a big-picture scope this season has been the play of Tim Stützle and Brady Tkachuk.
The two have both shown well at times, but are set to be cornerstones of the Sens' forward groups as they look to move out of a long rebuild. Ottawa is hoping to count on the duo to be an elite pairing down the road, and that is far from a certainty at the moment.
The Senators' offense has posted predictably paltry numbers, with the seventh-lowest goal per game output at 2.43 this season.
However that's not even the greatest causation of their dead-last rank in the standings, as the team owns the league's worst goals against by a decent margin, allowing 3.86 goals against per contest.
Certainly that mark will improve if they finally get some steadier goaltending, and Anton Forsberg was terrific Thursday in Carolina, and should get the start here.
Forsberg has stopped 90% of shots on goal, with a -0.4 goals saved above expected rating in seven contests.
Avalanche vs Senators
The Avalanche are deeper top to bottom, offering a ton of scoring ability throughout. Even given a relatively spirited effort from the Sens, I don't think they will be hanging around this one too often with a suspect defensive core trying to shut down one of the deepest units in hockey.
I do expect the Senators to trend upwards somewhat toward more promising results going forward, but the idea that the Avalanche can win this by at least two more than 50% of the time seems very reasonable to me.
Therefore I see value in backing the Avs on the puck-line at +110, and I would play them down to -105.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche -1.5 +110 (Play to -105)