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NHL Playoffs Game 1 Odds, Pick & Preview: Blues vs. Avalanche (May 17)

NHL Playoffs Game 1 Odds, Pick & Preview: Blues vs. Avalanche (May 17) article feature image
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Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche.

  • The Avalanche are home favorites on Tuesday in Game 1 against the Blues.
  • Does Colorado's potent offense provide more value on the spread or the total?
  • Nick Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Blues vs. Avalanche Game 1 Odds

Blues Odds +180
Avalanche Odds -225
Over/Under 6.5
Time 9:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Colorado Avalanched entered these playoffs as the cup favorite, and showed every reason why as they terrorized the Nashville Predators on route to a four-game sweep in Round 1. The Avalanche will now enter round two well rested and featuring essentially a clean bill of health, looking to make quick work of the St. Louis Blues.

After a scorching hot finish to the season, the Blues upset the Minnesota Wild in Round 1, who had finished second in the West with 113 points this season and certainly showed a ton of upside in doing so.

St. Louis will certainly offer a more formidable test than the Avs received in Round 1, but will they be able to cause the same problems to this powerhouse Colorado group? Let’s break down the series opening matchup.

St. Louis Thrives on Offense

St. Louis’ deadly offense shined through in the first round, as the Blues averaged 3.66 goals per game against the elite defensive Wild.

The Blues feature a wealth of scoring talent and creative playmakers littered throughout their top-nine up front, and as the Wild found out, if your playing about breakeven scoring chance wise with this Blues team, that is likely not going to mean good things results wise.

St. Louis played to a 49.83 expected goals rate throughout the series, but led +6 on goal differential and took the series in six games.

All season long I have been noting that it’s likely St. Louis can finish well above its expected mark with its roster and playing style, and the Blues ultimately led the league in goals scored above expected with a +54.48 mark. They followed that up with a +3.7 goals scored above expected mark throughout six games in round one.

St. Louis have less of a shot-first mentality than many teams, and love to find seam plays and passes into the slot, generating very high danger scoring chances. Couple that with the wealth of potent shooters in this lineup, and it’s easy to see why they have shattered the expected marks this season.

The ability to be opportunistic in front of goal will be crucial to any hopes of the Blues pulling off what would be a shocking upset in this series, as it will be downright shocking to see them carry more of the play altogether.

Torey Krug and Marco Scandella remain listed as day-to-day on the back end, and the Blues should otherwise enter at full health. Those absences on a thin blue-line are crucial, even if Calle Rosen and Niko Mikkola did fill in with surprisingly competent play in Round 1.

The Blues were a very average club defensively this season, and featured an 18th worst xGA/60 rate of 3.0 altogether throughout the regular season, and will obviously be fighting hard not to see those concerns exposed against this lethal Avalanche core.

Jordan Binnington has seemingly reclaimed the starter’s role for the moment and should get the start here. Binnington entered in Game 4 of the Wild series and found three consecutive wins, playing to a +2.1 goals saved above expected rating and a .943 save percentage.

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Will the Avalanche Continue to Dominate?

Colorado’s four game sweep of the Predators was about as impressive as you could ask for, and this roster truly looks like something special for the time being.

Cale Makar and Nathan Mackinnon both played at a level that few in hockey can match, but the support around the two was fantastic as well. Devon Toews was out of this world as well, Captain Gabriel Landeskog showed effectively in his return from injury, and altogether this absolutely stacked roster looked better than ever.

Colorado dominated Nashville badly throughout those four games, playing to a 69.34% expected goals mark and a shocking +13 goal differential. Nashville is far from a horrible defensive team, but looked the part facing Colorado while allowing a 4.36 xGA/60 rating in the series.

Most importantly Darcy Kuemper seems to have avoided significant injury in a scary incident in Round 1, which saw the net-minder sidelined with a stick to the eye through his mask, and it appears likely Kuemper will return for round one.

Kuemper followed up his excellent regular season with a solid first three games in Round 1, in which he managed a +0.9 GSAx and a .934 save percentage.

Blues vs. Avalanche Pick

We are likely to see another high scoring contest between these two club’s in Game 1 Tuesday.

The Blues are not a dominant defensive team by any means, especially by the standards of team’s remaining in the playoffs. It appears unlikely that any team will hold Colorado to a lower total very often, and it’s hard for me to see St. Louis doing so in the opener.

St. Louis has been one of the most offensively potent teams in the league all season long and we saw their clinical ability in front of goal shine through yet again in Round 1 against a strong defensive club in Minnesota.

Even against a team like Colorado, I can’t see St. Louis entering this one looking to simply batten it down as much as possible and try to turtle hoping to avoid complete breakdowns, like we often saw at times from the Stars in Round 1.

The Blues’ scoring talents throughout the top three units are their greatest assets, and they are likely going to come right at the Avs in this series looking to play aggressively themselves.

I think we should see a high-scoring series, and therefore my favorite play is over 6.5 goals at -125.

Pick: Over 6.5 -125 (Play to -135)

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