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NHL Playoffs Betting Odds, Previews: Can the Avalanche Upset the Flames Again?

Credit:

Isaiah J. Downing, USA Today Sports.

  • We have two NHL Playoff games on Friday: Toronto Maple Leafs (+128) at Boston Bruins (-138) and Colorado Avalanche (+155) at Calgary Flames (-170).
  • Michael Leboff details analysis on both games, along with bets offering value.

We could see some history tonight. The Calgary Flames will need a win at home over the Avalanche to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to fall in the first round of the playoffs. That has never happened before.

But before we get to tonight’s action, let’s take a quick look at how things shook out on Thursday night.

The San Jose Sharks were the only team facing elimination on last night and they won, 5-2, thanks to a much-needed bounce-back performance from goaltender Martin Jones. The struggling goaltender was in form, making 30 saves with 30 saves and not allowing a goal at 5-on-5.

Whether the Sharks will see more of that type of goaltending from Jones in Game 6 will likely decide whether or not this series goes the distance or if the Knights will wrap things up on Sunday in Sin City.

Interestingly, the winning team in the first five games of this series has scored at least five goals and there has yet to be a game decided by one goal.

The Blues came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to win, 3-2, in regulation. St. Louis scored with 15 seconds left in regulation to take a 3-2 series lead.

The Jets were good throughout the game and were inches away from taking a 3-0 lead, but they left the door open for an opportunistic Blues team. St. Louis buried its chances in a game that was basically 50/50 in terms of expected goals and high-danger scoring opportunities.

In the Eastern Conference, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals, 2-1, to even that series up at two games apiece.

After a dismal performance in Game 3, the Capitals rebounded with a strong effort in Game 4 but were thwarted by some timely goaltending by Petr Mrazek.

The Hurricanes produced more shot attempts in Game 4, but in terms of expected goals things were basically 50-50.

The big takeaway from that game, though, had nothing to do with scoreboard. Late in the game, T.J. Oshie, one of Washington’s best forwards, was hit from behind by Warren Foegele and went awkwardly into the boards. Washington’s head coach Todd Reirden said Oshie would be out for a while.

The Capitals don’t generate a ton of scoring chances to begin with, so losing one of their best playmakers is not ideal as this series heads back to D.C. all square.

Toronto Maple Leafs (+128) at Boston Bruins (-138)

7 p.m. ET, NBCSN

This one has been a chess match.

You could make the argument that Boston is a little fortunate to be tied in this series, as the Leafs boast the better expected goals and scoring chance numbers, but this thing has been razor tight and will likely be decided by a moment of magic or a mistake from either team.

Crucially, Boston will get the last change tonight, meaning that Bruce Cassidy can do his best to get his top line away from John Tavares and Jake Muzzin.

The Patrice Bergeron line did have some success against Tavares, Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman in Game 4, but with Nazem Kadri suspended there’s opportunity for Cassidy to cause some mismatches further down the lineup if he so pleases.

Mike Babcock has been steadfast in his efforts to get the Tavares line out there against Bergeron every time they step on the ice, but on the road that means he’s going to be changing on the fly and that could lead to some chaos.

Once again, I’m not terribly interested in the betting this game. The market for this series has been pretty much on point since Game 1.

Colorado Avalanche (+155) at Calgary Flames (-170)

10 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Not only have the Avalanche won three games in a row, but they’ve done it by dominating at 5-on-5.

  • Shot share: Avalanche 55.9%
  • Expected Goals Share:  Avalanche 59.4%
  • Goals Share:  Avalanche 62.5%
  • Scoring Chance Share: Avalanche 58.1%
  • High-Danger Scoring Chance Share: Avalanche 56.3%

Those numbers are surprising. The Avalanche were not a great 5-on-5 team in the regular season and the Flames were one of the best. Coming into this series I assumed that the Flames would be the better team and goaltending would be the only thing that could sink them, boy was I wrong.

I had thought the market was too high on Calgary in the first two games of this series and, with Calgary struggling to find its game and the Avalanche trending up, I think this is another good spot to back Colorado at decent odds.

Not only are the Avalanche proving they can hang with the Flames at 5-on-5, but they still have a significant edge in the goaltending department.

At the listed price the odds are implying that Colorado has a 38.4% chance of winning. That number underestimates the Avs and I’d suggest playing them down to +150.

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