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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Sharks vs. Avalanche (March 31)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Sharks vs. Avalanche (March 31) article feature image
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Photo by Zak Krill/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nazem Kadri #91 of the Colorado Avalanche

  • The Avalanche are favored at home on Thursday against the visiting Sharks.
  • Is this a let-down spot for Colorado against a struggling San Jose team?
  • Nick Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Sharks vs. Avalanche Odds

Sharks Odds +260
Avalanche Odds -350
Over/Under 6.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Stanley Cup favorite Colorado put together a statement victory last time out, earning a 2-1 victory in a potential Western Conference final preview against Calgary while short some elite stars.

The Avalanche now return home Thursday to host subpar San Jose, which will be skating the second leg of a back-to-back set, priced as massive -320 favorites.

So, could this be a potential let-down spot for Colorado? Let’s take a look below and see what might be in store.

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado made a big statement toward the overall sharpness of its team game in Tuesday’s contest.

The Avalanche played a strong defensive game to find a win in a tough spot, facing its most likely Western Conference final opponent in the Flames without top forward Nathan Mackinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog and defender Samuel Girard.

So, while those losses sound crucial, they’re nowhere near as crippling for this group as they would be for most others. The secondary pieces now slotted in the lineup, including Valeri Nichushkin, Nazem Kadri and Arturri Lehkonen are capable of dominating games.

From a handicapping perspective, we saw with Tuesday’s closing line moving toward -145 for the Flames. So, these roster losses can sometimes give us extra value in spots where the players stepping in are more likely to play strong minutes than oddsmakers me accredit.

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That said, I like the idea some of these secondary pieces are likely keen to step into bigger roles in the short term as a reason not to see letdown game.

In the last eight games, Colorado has been dominant as you’d expect, pushing back after a small downswing with a 6-1-1 record. In those games, they controlled more of the play 53.87 expected goals rate and a +10 goal differential.

After a big night against Calgary, I think we could quite possibly see Darcy Kuemper get a rest here, given the Avalanche have all but locked up first place in the conference.

As well, backup Pavel Francouz has offered some sound play this season, holding a +2.0 goals saved above expected rating with a .918 save % throughout 16 games.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose has been in a middling run of play, managing a 3-3-1 record and 47.88 xG rate over its last seven contests.

This sets up as tough spot, given the roster weaknesses and the fact San Jose just played a competitive contest in Arizona.

The top two defensive pairings continue to allow a lot of chances and have been a big part of the Sharks’ high 3.42 xGA per 60 minutes rate over its last seven games, consistent with the rest of the season.

Jake Middleton had quietly been one of San Jose’s sturdiest defenders with regard to suppressing the oppositions’ chances, so with him being shipped off to Minnesota the defense took a hit.

Offensively the Sharks have a pair of names offering elite play in Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, but behind this is a very manageable group up front and I expect Colorado to keep them to a lower output.

Kaapo Kahkonen has been confirmed as the starting goaltender for San Jose. Kahkonen has played to a +0.3 goals saved above expected rating and a .910 save percentage in 26 games.

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Sharks vs. Avalanche Pick

Even without Mackinnon, Girard, Landeskog and likely to play backup goaltender Pavel Francouz, the Avalanche should still be able to win this game..

As I mentioned, those losses are meaningful, but the players who will skate those minutes are still excellent. It’s easy to see how line by line Colorado should carry more of the play and offer more talent.

The Avalanche have been very sharp defensively of late and should be able to limit San Jose’s chances. Colorado has also been dominant at home, and I think will keep its game sharp skating toward another Presidents Trophy.

At -115, we have enough value to back the Avalanche Puck Line and I would play it down to -130 odds.

Pick: Colorado -1.5 (-115 | Play to -130)

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