By now, the hockey world knows the Colorado Avalanche are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
But why do the sportsbooks favor Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche? PlayColorado sought to get that answer in light of the start of Colorado’s season.
The Avs open their 56-game season against the rival St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
As Andrew Mannino, the senior sports content analyst at PointsBet, said:
“They’re favored every which way you look at it right now. We got them to win it all at +550. Their season points total is at 76.5, three more than anyone else. We got them favored to win the (West) division. Nathan MacKinnon is favored to win the Hart (Trophy). And Cale Makar is in the conversation for the Norris (Trophy).
“I think this is a team that is talented back-to-front. They have the lines to hang with anybody. And I think in that West Division, they’ll be able to pick up a lot of wins playing only within the division.”
What is most important for the Avalanche to win the Cup?
When a team has mile-high expectations like this, there’s always the potential it doesn’t deliver.
Look no further than last season when Colorado was the favorite to win the Cup once the playoffs started.
Those betting on the Avalanche know how that wound up … losing in crushing fashion to the Dallas Stars in Game 7.
So what is the most important factor for Colorado to improve upon and ensure what happened a few months ago doesn’t happen again?
According to Mannino:
“You’d like to see them stay healthy down the stretch. They had a run of bad luck against Dallas there from an injuries perspective. And I think that at this point right now, they’re going to be expected to go to the playoffs and nothing they do before May is going to be remembered. They’re just going to have to be hot at the right time, and keep momentum that I think they’ll build throughout the season in the division going into the playoffs; especially if they’re able to advance to face some of the teams from the other divisions that they won’t see all year.”
Goaltending could be weak link
In terms of the makeup of the roster, there’s no doubt as to the biggest question mark for the Avalanche. It’s also what could keep them from hoisting the Cup when the season ends.
As Mannino said:
“I think goaltending is certainly the weakest of the three position groups for Colorado. And if (Las) Vegas, especially, is able to figure that out and put up a lot of points in their head-to-head matchups, that could give them trouble early in the playoffs. Or a team like Tampa (Bay) that they won’t have seen all year, if they get to that point, and Tampa is allowed to score at will like they want to do, that will be a problem for Colorado down the stretch.”
Biggest threats to the Avs
Since the Avalanche are the consensus NHL betting favorite, few teams have the ability to pose a threat.
The two big ones are clearly the Golden Knights and defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
According to Mannino:
“Vegas is obviously on their radar as the biggest threat because they’re going to play each other so much this year. I think both of those teams will, for the most part, beat up on their competition in the West but they’re going to have to face each other a number of times. And then probably again in the playoffs. So Vegas is the biggest threat there.
In the other divisions, I see Tampa as the biggest challenge. And as a goal-scoring team that’s strong against the Avalanche’s weakness. Outside of them, right now a healthy Colorado can hang with anybody in the league, including those teams, and I don’t see anyone else as a major threat if Colorado is staying healthy and able to play the kind of hockey they want down the stretch.”
Fun team to watch
His role at PointsBet aside, as a fan, Mannino can’t wait to see what this Avs team looks like. The Colorado sports betting market is in full agreement.
“They’re such a fun team to watch because you’re excited for every line, because it never feels like there’s a dull moment or it’s going to be quiet during a shift. It feels like anything can happen at any moment with this team and I think they’re going to be a blast all season long.”
Now to really put Mannino on the spot, do the Avalanche make good on their goal and win the third Stanley Cup in franchise history?
“Yeah, I think they probably do. I think they get out of the West. I think they have an absolute nightmare series against Vegas in the divisional playoffs. And then I think they face whoever is left in the East or the Canadian team that stumbles out. And face off against Tampa in a brutal Stanley Cup, and I think Colorado probably comes out in seven.”