NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canadiens vs. Avalanche (December 2)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Devon Toews
Canadiens vs. Avalanche Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After a nightmare start to the season for the Canadiens, longtime GM Marc Bergevin finally was let go in a controversial move Monday, prior to yet another Montreal loss to Vancouver.
The Canadiens own the league’s fourth-worst record and second-worst Goal Differential at -30 so far this season, just months removed from a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Colorado will enter having played Wednesday night against a very strong Maple Leafs team. The Avalanche are finally skating at near full-health and likely poised to begin their climb up the Central Division standings.
Early concerns seem to be diminishing for the Avalanche, as the team has now posted a 9-2-1 record the last 12 times out, featuring 8 multi-goal victories, a +24 goal differential, and a 54.87 xGF%.
The Avalanche have rarely had all of their spectacular top four defenders in Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, and Bowen Byram in the lineup, but all four figure to play yet again Wednesday and should make up an utterly dominant top two pairs going forward.
Devon Toews’ return has been meaningful, with 10 points in 9 contests, as well as a 57.4% xGF%. Bowen Byram continues to show why his NHL arrival came with much anticipation. He has been very strong when in the lineup, with a 60.2 xGF% and nine points in 12 games.
Nazem Kadri has been tremendous in the early going this season, with 27 points in 18 contests. He gives the Avs a lethal one-two punch down the middle with Nathan Mackinnon now set to return to the lineup.
Edit: With Darcy Kuemper a last second scratch with an upper-body injury Wednesday, Jonas Johansson claimed the start, and it is now unclear whether we will see Johansson go back-to-back or Justus Annunen Thursday.
Montreal’s magical run to the Cup Final last playoffs was far from a fluke, but that said, everything certainly did work out perfectly with regards to the roster and player performance.
This season we are seeing the complete flip side, with notable losses to the roster being compounded by lesser play from a number of key contributors from that run.
Shea Weber and Carey Price were both in spectacular form, going as the club’s number one defender and starting goaltender. Unfortunately, both have both missed the entirety of this season.
Center Phillip Danault was very strong in locking up opposition’s top forward units and is another key loss having signed in free-agency with the Kings.
Joel Edmundson was relied upon heavily during the run, with the Habs playing immense minutes to their top four defenders, but he has been out as well. Not to mention that the reliance on four guys to play so many minutes isn’t sustainable over 82 games but was highly effective during the playoffs.
Upfront, a number of pieces have begun to struggle, and the offense by committee approach we saw during much of last season for the Habs has transitioned into very little offensive production.
So altogether, the roster is markedly different and markedly worse, and it’s hard to feel that this season’s dreadful results are likely to turn around significantly.
The good news for Canadiens fans is that this season’s draft likely features several franchise changing pieces, headlined by a can’t miss superstar in Shane Wright.
Avalanche vs. Canadiens Pick
Rather than wait and see how Colorado’s contest plays out against Toronto Wednesday, I feel taking a line holding a lot of value here before it worsens makes the most sense.
With Nathan Mackinnon returning Wednesday, Colorado will skate as close to full-strength as we have seen this season. This roster figures to be downright scary and has often missed key play driving defenders, as well as Mackinnon, and still put together very strong results.
The Canadiens are what they are. It’s past the quarter way mark of the season, and whether you think the firing of GM Marc Bergevin ignites the group somewhat or whatever, the fact is this team has been getting straight up dominated by most competition–let alone Colorado. It’s clearly the past the point of a drastic turnaround for a roster with notable changes compared to last season’s successes.
The Canadiens have recently managed a league-worst xGA/60 rating of 3.25, and will get set to take on the league’s top offense that has a Hart trophy calibre player in Nathan Mackinnon back in the fold.
DraftKings currently has the 3-way (regulation win) Moneyline up at -105, and I think the Avalanche are certainly winning this game in regulation often enough to hold value at that mark. If you want to be a little more bold, take the puck line at +135.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche 3-Way Line -105 (Play to -120)