NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Avalanche (October 12)
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan MacKinnon
- The Avalanche are heavy home favorites on opening night against the Blackhawks.
- With one team entering a rebuild and the other going for a repeat title, is there any value in buying low and selling high?
- Greg Liodice breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Blackhawks vs. Avalanche Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Opening night in the Rockies will be a special one as the Colorado Avalanche hang their banner from their Stanley Cup championship last season. They host the struggling Chicago Blackhawks who are using this year to turn the page onto a rebuild.
Chicago has had it rough the past few years. From all the drama surrounding the team off the ice, to the poor management decisions and the ultimate struggles on the ice, it’s no secret the Blackhawks are rebuilding, and the lottery is a reasonable outlook for them.
While their opponents are working to put their past in the rearview, it’s all about the future for the Avalanche. Coming off a dominating Cup win, many believe the Avs can pull it off again. As hard as it is in the NHL, the Avs have their core locked up and are gearing for another Cup run.
Chicago Blackhawks Trending Down
Living in limbo is never fun (especially when you’ve enjoyed drastic success over the past decade), but limbo is where the Blackhawks currently reside. Yes, they have superstar Patrick Kane, but there’s a lot of chatter that his time in Chicago may be coming to an end. Captain Jonathan Toews hasn’t been the same player, and although Seth Jones may be putting up points, he hasn’t been a positive on the defensive end.
In addition to those factors, they also traded away 41-goal scorer Alex Debrincat and replaced him with Max Domi. While Domi is a fine player, he’s nowhere near the player Debrincat is.
The Blackhawks have a lot to figure out. Last season, they were one of the worst teams at creating offense with a 46.12 xGF% (Expected Goals For) and ranked last in generating High Danger Chances. However, on the defensive end they weren’t so bad, placing in the top 10 at preventing High Danger Chances. Their downfall was their goaltending, allowing a seventh-worst 3.52 goals per game.
It’ll be an interesting season in the blue paint for Chicago, coming in with a completely new goaltending crew. They acquired Petr Mrazek from Toronto, who is coming off a career worst season, posting an .888 SV% and a -11.6 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). It’s expected he will be their starter while Alex Stalock will back him up.
Colorado Avalanche Should Dominate on the Power Play
There’s not a whole lot of turnaround from last year’s Cup-winning team. The only significant missing piece is Nazem Kadri, who went to Calgary.
This team is still deadly on both ends of the ice as they are led by Nathan MacKinnon (who has a serious shot at winning the Hart Trophy). Behind MacKinnon is Mikko Rantanen, as well as Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe winner Cale Makar. Captain Gabriel Landeskog will not dress as he’s still two weeks away from returning to the ice.
Regardless, the Avs are still hungry, so you can imagine they will be coming out guns blazing Wednesday night against a weak Blackhawks team.
No surprise here, but last year the Avs were among the leaders in driving play with an eighth-best 52.89 xGF%. However, they were middle of the pack in creating High Danger Chances. Keep an eye on the Power Play though, as they were seventh with a 24% Success Rate, while Chicago’s Penalty Kill was a ninth-worst 76.2%. Factoring in the Blackhawks' shaky goaltending, things could get ugly if the Avs can get the man advantage quickly.
The one thing I will keep a close eye on this year for the Avs is their goaltending. They parted ways with Darcy Kuemper and now head into this season with Pavel Francouz and Alexandar Georgiev.
Both netminders have spent their careers as backups but were viewed as future starters. Last season Georgiev played okay on a great Rangers team with a .908 SV% but a -6.8 GSAx. Francouz had a solid season with a .921 SV% and a +1.9 GSAx. If I had to venture a guess, I’d assume Francouz starts with his experience with the team, but it’s worth monitoring.
Blackhawks vs. Avalanche Pick
Chicago has had a decent defensive structure, and it may still be in place with new coach Luke Richardson, who was a solid defenseman in his playing days.
However, goaltending will forever be a question mark. As good as they were last year defensively, they still allowed 3.52 goals per game. Not only that, but this preseason the Blackhawks allowed an average of 3.67 goals against solid teams. It will be an ugly season in the Windy City.
Colorado’s preseason was a bit slow out the gate, but I think things will be eased once the team loads out the full roster. The Stanley Cup hangover is a real thing, and preseason is the perfect remedy to squeeze it out.
The NHL’s fascination with putting Chicago in primetime games will forever be a head scratcher. Nevertheless, heading into this game, I don’t think this will be close. In hockey, you rarely see a puck line that’s not 1.5, but for this game, it’s at 2.5. With all the weapons Colorado has and the Blackhawks’ inability to keep the puck out of their own net, getting in at +110 for -2.5 is a solid move.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche -2.5 (+110)