The road to a championship is paved with perseverance, sweat and a lot of luck.
When it comes to the Stanley Cup, all of that is amplified at least 10-fold.
To hoist the most prestigious trophy in all of sports, it takes 16 wins in four best-of-seven series.
When and if your team reaches that point, no wonder the players are so ecstatic and the screams so emotional — they won and it’s finally over.
The Colorado Avalanche restarts its march at 4:30 p.m. MST on Sunday, Aug. 2, against the St. Louis Blues.
Unlike previous NHL seasons, teams won’t benefit from home-ice advantage or raucous fans. The games are set for two hub cities: the Western Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, and the Eastern Conference in Toronto. The teams are in their respective bubbles until their season is over.
So if the Avalanche makes a deep run in the NHL playoffs, they’ll remain in that bubble for two months.
"We're very deep, and we have a lot of talent as well." – Nathan MacKinnon#GoAvsGohttps://t.co/H5tL44QPx9
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) July 31, 2020
As Colorado defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup champion Ian Cole said to the team’s website:
“I think when the season got paused, we always knew that this could be a possibility. It’s not ideal. I don’t think anyone wants to be shut into a bubble for potentially two months and some days. I don’t think it’s something people plan for, but like anything in life, you have to try to make the most of it. Like I said, we’re going to have a great opportunity here, an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. We’re going to try to take advantage of that, and, you know, hopefully, the family will still be there when I get home.”
Avalanche vs. Blues odds
As for Sunday’s game, the Avs open as a slight underdog to Central Division rival St. Louis.
BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel sports betting app all have the Blues favored in the first game back.
|Avs vs Blues odds||DraftKings||FanDuel||BetMGM|
|Point spread||Avs +235|
|Total goals scored||Over 5.5 -103|
Under 5.5 -120
|Over 5.5 +105|
Under 5.5 -125
|Over 5.5 100
Under 5.5 -121
After Sunday’s game, Colorado faces the Dallas Stars at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday, Aug. 8 (time TBD).
Under the NHL’s return-to-play plan, the four teams in each conference will play each other once to determine the top four seeds in the first round of the playoffs.
The top four teams in the West
- Blues (42-19-10, .662 points percentage)
- Avalanche (42-20-8, .657)
- Golden Knights (39-24-8, .606)
- Stars (37-24-8, .594)
The games will be played under regular-season overtime and shootout rules with ties in the standings broken by regular-season points percentage. As noted earlier, they will be played in Edmonton.
That’s also where the four best-of-five qualifying rounds will take place. The four winners advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unlike the round-robin, the play-in games are under playoff rules. That means you play until there is a winner, regardless of how many overtimes it takes.
The Western Conference qualifying round
- Edmonton Oilers (5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12)
- Nashville Predators (6) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11)
- Vancouver Canucks (7) vs. Minnesota Wild (10)
- Calgary Flames (8) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9)
The NHL’s return marks the first opportunity for fans to test their luck at NHL betting.
The good news is the Avalanche remains a favorite for the Stanley Cup on the futures odds.
|Colorado Avalanche odds||DraftKings||FanDuel||BetMGM|
|NHL Western Conference winner||Golden Knights +250|
|Golden Knights +250|
Golden Knights +260
|Stanley Cup winner — top five||Flyers +550|
Golden Knights +550
Golden Knights +600
Golden Knights +800
The other bit of relevant betting info for Colorado hockey fans: As of Friday, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was the favorite at BetMGM and DraftKings to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (the MVP of the playoffs).
Conn Smythe Trophy winner odds
|Odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy||DraftKings||BetMGM|
|Conn Smythe Trophy winner — top five||Nathan MacKinnon +550|
Brad Marchand +1,000
Carter Hart +1,100
Patrice Bergeron +1,200
Andre Vasilevskiy +1,200
Robin Lehner +1,200
Brayden Point +1,300
Mark Stone +1,300
Nazem Kadri +1,300
|Nathan MacKinnon +900
Tuuka Rask +1,200
Carter Hart +1,300
Nikita Kucherov +1,500
Max Pacioretty +1,500
David Pastrnak +1,600
According to FanDuel’s current NHL betting breakdown, Colorado is in the top five for bet count and favorite.
The top five are the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Avalanche.
NHL return promos
DraftKings is offering sports bettors in Colorado the chance to wager $50 on any team to win their qualifying series, and you can get $5 for every goal they score all series.
FanDuel is offering a $50+ futures bet on a team to win the Stanley Cup. You can earn a $10 bonus for every win out of their first five playoff games. The max bet is $50.
Those are just two of the numerous promos Colorado sports betting apps are running this weekend.
Can Colorado win its third Cup?
There’s a reason the Avalanche are a favorite to win the Cup.
Colorado is deep on offense, strong on defense and really, really good. The key is goaltending. If Philipp Grubauer and/or Pavel Francouz can channel former Avs goalie Patrick Roy, the Avalanche have a serious chance to play for the Cup.
The other key is discipline and physicality.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are a grind both mentally and physically, which means the Avs can’t get lazy or sloppy on the defensive end and commit penalties. Furthermore, they also have to match the constant checking from teams like St. Louis and Dallas, who won’t relent. Colorado has the speed; they need to add the physicality that is crucial to a deep playoff run. That’s where the Avalanche depth is such a huge benefit.
March for the Cup begins Sunday
The four-month delay allowed Colorado to get healthy and it doesn’t appear the team has missed a beat.
In the Avalanche scrimmage on Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild, they gave a taste to the West and the NHL of what’s in store.
One goal, two goal, three goal- Let's get more!#GoAvsGo https://t.co/LUaNvSSlBD
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) July 29, 2020
Now it’s time to build on that and make this unique season even more memorable.
The march for the Avs’ third Stanley Cup starts on Sunday.
As Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said to the team’s website:
“I don’t think we have ever seen a stronger lineup than this in (my) tenure here, so this is very exciting, and I think we are just scratching the surface on what we can do. Having said that, we haven’t accomplished anything, we haven’t done anything, so we still have that chip on our shoulder, and we are still going into this thing to prove to people that we are ready for this. We are going to keep growing through this, and we are going to learn from this. I am real confident, real excited to see what our group can do, and it should be a fun ride.”