NHL Odds and Prediction: Predators vs. Avalanche (April 28)
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Image
- After bouncing back from a four-game losing streak, the Avalanche host the Predators in another late-season NHL matchup.
- The Preds may have a problem in goal as starter Juuse Saros was injured vs. the Flames.
- Carol Schram dives into the preview and offers up a top selection.
Predators vs. Avalanche Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Fans could be getting a first-round playoff preview on Thursday when the Nashville Predators visit Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche.
Heading into Wednesday night’s games, the Preds are sitting in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, which would set up an opening-round date with the Calgary Flames.
Those two teams played a barnburner on Tuesday, but the Dallas Stars could still leapfrog the Predators before the season’s end.
Meanwhile, the Avs looked more like their usual selves on Tuesday, snapping a four-game losing streak with a win over the surging St. Louis Blues.
Heading into Thursday’s matchup, here’s a look at the latest news on both teams, and your best bet for the game.
Preds Likely Without Injured Saros
The Preds may have squandered an important point on Tuesday. Leading 4-3 as the clock ran down, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk forced overtime with less than a second remaining, then Elias Lindholm connected for the overtime winner.
Possibly even more concerning is that those events all transpired after Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros left the game with an apparent leg injury with 6:32 remaining in regulation time.
On Wednesday, the Predators announced that Saros will not play in his team’s two remaining regular-season games.
At this time of the year, it’s hard to know if Saros’ injury is significant, or if his club is choosing to use this time to rest up its very busy starter before next week’s playoffs begin.
With 67 starts, Saros leads the NHL in minutes played this season, and his 20.7 goals saved above expected ranks him sixth in the league.
A serious injury would be a huge blow to Nashville’s odds of advancing in the postseason. For our purposes, Wednesday’s announcement allows us to assume that David Rittich will get the nod against Colorado on Thursday.
In just 16 appearances this season, Rittich has a record of 5-3-4, with an .883 save percentage, 3.56 goals-against average and minus-7.2 goals saved above expected. That’s a tough stat line, especially if he gets matched up against an explosive offensive team like Colorado.
In most years, Nashville has had some trouble scoring. But 42-goal seasons from both Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene — and a phenomenal 93-point campaign from Roman Josi — have helped bump the squad to 12th overall this season, averaging 3.18 goals per game.
And while their penalty kill is not great — at 78.9% — the Preds have provided a solid defensive environment for their goaltenders at 5-on-5, ranking third-best in expected goals against.
Other than Saros, Nashville’s only other injury is to defenseman Jeremy Lauzon, who’s considered week-to-week.
Avs Prepping for Long Postseason Run
Even after their recent four-game losing streak, the Colorado Avalanche still have a shot at claiming the Presidents’ Trophy for the second-straight season.
Last year, they tied Vegas with 82 points in 56 games. They earned the award based on the tiebreaker, then they were eliminated by the Golden Knights in the second round of the playoffs.
This year, they’re sitting two points behind the Florida Panthers. With two games to go for each team, Colorado comfortably holds the edge in the tiebreaker again. If the two squads end up even in points, the Avs will be declared the winners again.
After last year, especially, they may not care that much. What matters more right now, is to continue fine-tuning their game in preparation for what they hope is a long playoff run.
And they’re getting healthier. Defenseman Devon Toews, who has been an underrated part of the Avs’ success this season, returned before Tuesday’s 5-3 win over St. Louis. Also, leading scorer Mikko Rantanen is due to be back in the lineup against Nashville on Thursday.
That leaves only captain Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Ryan Murray on the injured list. Landeskog may take Thursday’s morning skate, and should be on track to return when the playoffs begin next week.
On home ice, the Avs have been a force this season, using the mile-high elevation in Denver to their advantage to build a record of 30-5-3 at Ball Arena. Just one of the games on their recent losing streak came on home ice — a 3-2 setback at the hands of the Washington Capitals.
Colorado is finishing its season with back-to-back games, Thursday against Nashville, then Friday in Minnesota. Coach Jared Bednar said during Wednesday’s optional practice that starter Darcy Kuemper will play in one of those final two games, but didn’t tip his hand on which one.
Kuemper has saved 20.9 goals above expected this season, while his backup Pavel Francouz is at 2.9 in about one-third of the action. Their basic stats are actually quite similar, though — identical goals-against averages of 2.52 and a save percentage of .918 for Francouz against .922 for Kuemper.
Predators vs. Avalanche Pick
Even with an intriguing matchup like this one, it’s tough to know whether teams will strive to play a competitive game at this time of the year, or if they’ll just going through the motions, trying to avoid injury.
Here’s what we do know: the home team has dominated the season series. The Avs won 6-2 in late November while the Preds picked up a 5-2 regulation win at Bridgestone Arena in December, and a 5-4 overtime victory on Jan. 11 in a tightly-contested thriller.
If you’re looking for a team to back, Colorado does seem to have the edge on paper. But that -250 moneyline doesn’t offer much inspiration.
Instead, draw your eye to how all three previous games this season have hit the over — and how Rittich could be Nashville’s starter.
Another goal-fest seems like a real possibility, and the plus-money odds should make it worth your while.
Pick: Over 6.5 (+100); play down to -120