Oilers vs. Avalanche Odds, Preview & Prediction: How to Bet Game 1 of Western Conference Finals
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado Avalanche standout Cale Makar.
- The Colorado Avalanche host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
- The Avalanche are heavy monyeline favorites in the opener, but analyst Nicholas Martin has found betting value on the total.
- Check out below to see which side he's landed on ahead of the opening showdown.
Oilers vs. Avalanche Game 1 Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Game 1 of what has become one of the most highly anticipated NHL playoff series starts Tuesday in Denver when the Colorado Avalanche host the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals.
Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar will lead the way for Colorado and its deep, well-rounded roster, which will be tasked with shutting down the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who are each posting historic numbers this postseason.
That said, will the offenses reign supreme in Game 1 of this tremendous matchup? Let’s take a look to see where we can find some betting value.
It might come with an asterisk based upon the controversial ending to Game 5, but I felt the Oilers were truly the better team in its second-round matchup against the Calgary Flames.
The Oilers controlled play to an xGF% of 51.31 in that series, generating far more goals than expected on top of that against goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who was widely credited as the main cause for the loss.
Surely, that’s a fair sentiment to an extent, especially with the timing of some of the softer goals, but it was also abundantly clear Edmonton was generating extremely dangerous chances and always likely to have created a better than expected output.
The Oilers’ exceptional offensive output against the Flames, who had defended well in the regular season, was led by one of the more dominant series we have seen in recent history from the duo of McDavid and Draisaitl.
McDavid and Draisaitl sit with 26 points apiece throughout 12 games this postseason, and while Colorado should be more well equipped to keep them in check than Calgary was, it’s still hard to see that pair not averaging a point-per -game at worst this series.
Behind that, Edmonton has seen some notable offensive contributions from other sources, specifically Evander Kane and Zach Hyman, who have 12 and eight goals respectively this postseason.
Edmonton allowed a high xGA per 60 minutes (3.49) in that series. And although it generated more than that, it’s hard to argue the Flames hold the level of offensive depth the Avalanche does. So, I still believe we’ll see Edmonton’s bottom-two defensive pairings exposed at times.
Mike Smith has been steady, holding a +8.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .927 save percentage throughout 12 games played. There have been some miscues, but Smith has certainly proven a number of doubters such as myself wrong throughout the opening two rounds.
Colorado fought through some adversity in the final game of the St. Louis series, which could certainly could be viewed as a level of growth compared to what we saw last season against Vegas. The Avalanche finished that series with the best xGF% of any team in round 2 at 56.35, and with an average of 3.66 goals for per game.
A strong offensive output will be crucial, and although Colorado’s defensive play is strong, we know it’s likely going to be next to impossible to keep Edmonton’s top two units entirely in check.
Especially as Darcy Kuemper has posted relatively average play this postseason, holding a -3.0 goals saved above expected rating and .904 save percentage through nine games.
Worrying about defending first is not necessarily Colorado’s game anyway, as when Jared Bednar’s team is true to form its scoring chance suppression is led by the ability to spend a lot of time in the offensive zone, playing aggressively on the front foot.
Nathan MacKinnon has been brilliant this postseason, but certainly has an unbelievable supporting cast up front stacked with elite offensive talent. And behind that is what has to be considered the best defensive pairing in hockey of Cale Makar and Devon Toews.
Avalanche vs. Oilers Pick
There are a number of sound arguments as to why this series could trend right around the crazy high totals we saw throughout much of the Battle of Alberta in Edmonton’s previous series.
The Oilers have clearly picked up their defensive play down the stretch and into the postseason under head coach Jay Woodcroft, while Smith has at least been simply better than most would have expected this postseason.
However, Colorado is a far different animal than the Los Angeles Kings and even the Flames. And even if Edmonton sort of kept its opponent in check during the regular season, those were essentially irrelevant games for the then short-handed Avalanche.
To see Edmonton able to hold Colorado to a lower total often in this series would still be quite surprising and I believe the latter will find a strong offensive output in the opener. Edmonton’s elite offense is always going to generate its share of chances as well, and will likely make life very tough on Kuemper.
Even with a high total of seven goals, I feel we have some value getting plus money on the wager. So, I think the best play for Game 1 is backing the over in a series which should quite likely offer a number of high-scoring thrillers.
Pick: Total Over 7 (+105)