Even if you’re limping into the playoffs, you’re still standing.
But like the classic Elton John tune, the Colorado Avalanche may wind up like a wreck they hide behind the (goalie) mask they use.
So it’s the Avs versus the Nashville Predators in a best-of-7 Western Conference first round matchup.
The series schedule is as follows (all times MT):
- Tuesday: at Colorado, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
- Thursday: at Colorado, 7:30 p.m. (TNT)
- Saturday: at Nashville, 2:30 p.m. (TNT)
- Monday: at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
- May 11: at Colorado, TBD (if necessary)
- May 13: at Nashville, TBD (if necessary)
- May 15: at Colorado, TBD (if necessary)
The top-seeded Avs are expected to encounter little resistance.
Yet, it is full caution ahead.
Avs are heavy favorites
Colorado’s online sportsbooks and the betting market are certainly making it clear that they expect a colossal demolition by the Avalanche.
Take BetMGM Colorado for example.
The sportsbook has established the Avs as a whopping -700 favorite to win the series and a gaudy -350 to win Game 1 Tuesday night at Ball Arena.
I did a Discount Double Check to make sure I read that series price correctly. That’s double the next highest first-round favorite: Florida Panthers -350 vs. the Washington Capitals.
It’s even nuttier on the liabilities for the Lion on the Stanley Cup winner.
The Avs opened at +600 as the favorites and now they are down to .
Those Panthers were +2500 and are down all the way to +550. The Avs, though, have garnered triple the BetMGM handle of second choice Florida.
The books will clean up if the Preds pull off the shocker.
Or take it on the chin like a Joe Sakic punch to the face of Doug Gilmour.
Where’s the value?
Now let’s be perfectly clear.
This is an unabashed pro-Colorado article posted on the World Wide Web. But we cannot in good conscience say there is value in betting favorites of that magnitude.
Can we actually suggest betting the Predators against the best Avalanche team in franchise history?
Let’s do it.
Like our “Profit from Pain” concept from last fall, leaning toward the Preds protects us on both ends.
Even modest bets can have excellent return. And if the Avs return to expected form, it’ll be easy wins and our favorite team coasts into the conference semis.
That’s not bad.
And the math may be on our side to cash here and there.
Sabertooth tigers vs. a Yeti
The Predators may actually be a tough out for the Avs based on their recent history.
The teams are 5-5 straight up in the last 10 meetings. That includes the Avs coughing up a 3-1 lead at home last week.
Yes, the Avs have been nursing injuries and sickness to captain Gabe Landeskog and points machine Mikko Rantanen.
Nashville has scored on nearly 36% of its power plays. The Predators also have been successful on more than 76% of their penalty kills.
That’s a massive imbalance for an Avalanche squad that ranks 15th for PK.
We know the Preds can score.
And now there’s an opening for Colorado to get back on track with a backup Nashville goalie set to play the first two games.
Predators coach John Hynes said main netminder Juuse Saros will be out at least Games 1 and 2.
That’s a huge opportunity to bet overs — which the Avs have hit at a 55% clip this year.
With Landeskog expected back and the Avs holding court at home, anything better than -200 for an over 6.5 goals could be a solid bet.
We must be cautious
The Avalanche are a complete team.
Colorado has made solid trades at the right time.
The Avs have made improvements to puck control.
And they’ve found a consistent top-tier goalie who gets scoring support.
So now it’s time to shake off the rust, cleanse the demons of last year’s postseason collapse, cash a few bets and bring the Stanley Cup back where it belongs.