After a couple down nights we got back on the winning track with last night’s long free NHL pick between the Bruins and Islanders.
I had the Under 5.5 from Long Island, and this one won with ease. The two teams combined for just 44 shots on the night and a J.G. Pageau go-ahead goal with less than five minutes left in regulation was the difference as the Islanders edged the B’s by a 1-0 count despite being outshot 27-17 in that one.
I’m not a huge fan of taking an over/under at odds like the -127 odds we saw yesterday, but that one felt like a necessary risk and it easily paid off.
We’ll now turn out attention to tonight’s eight-game schedule and check out the Avalanche vs. Kings in a West division contest from L.A.!
- Season Record: 5-5
- Units: -0.09
Avalanche vs. Kings Betting Odds
- Avalanche (-233)
- Kings (+208)
- Avalanche -1.5 (+100)
- Kings +1.5 (-120)
- Over 5.5 (-120)
- Under 5.5 (+109)
Avalanche vs. Kings NHL Pick Breakdown
Of course, these Avs are going to score some goals this season.
Their 3.37 goals per game last season ranked fourth and they did so in a year where Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri all missed large stretches of time with injury. That would be why my Hart Trophy vote would have gone to Nathan MacKinnon as he nearly single-handedly led the team to the top seed in the west, but finished two points why of the Blues with a game in hand before the season was paused in March.
It’s a forward group that added a top-six power forward in Brandon Saad while the trade for defenseman Devon Toews will add some offense from the back end.
It’s also an offense that should be carrying plenty of confidence and momentum into this one after pounding the aforementioned Blues by an 8-0 count their last time out after a disappointing 4-1 loss to begin their season.
You can fully expect this Avalanche offense to rank among the league’s best again this season as there is just far too much talent to handle up front and on the blueline.
The Avs were one of the rare teams to finish in the top 10 in both offense and defense last season after they finished sixth in overall defense a season ago.
It’s a group that more or less deserved that fate as they ranked 10th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5, 12th in scoring chances against/60 and sixth in high-danger chances against/60, as per Natural Stat Trick.
It’s a group that added Toews to the back end, but also one that has graduated one of their many high-end prospects in Conor Timmins. The team’s second-round pick from 2017 is one of the top defensive prospects in the NHL and has skated in each of the team’s first two games this season. We can also look forward to the debut of fellow high-end defensive prospect Bowen Byram who most recently captained Team Canada to a silver medal at the World Juniors.
At the end of the day, the Avalanche sport an embarrassment of riches on their blueline and I would anticipate them being one of the better defenses in the league once again this time around.
Backup Pavel Francouz is currently dealing with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day, meaning starter Philipp Grubauer is in for a heavy workload until his running mate is healthy again.
It was a solid second season in Colorado for the 29-year-old last season as the former Washington Capital yielded a 2.63 GAA and .916 Sv% across 37 games, but also dealt with some injuries himself. That said, he’s also one of the more underrated netminders in the league as he’s the proud owner of a career 2.43 GAA and .920 Sv% across 176 career NHL appearances, most coming as Braden Holtby’s backup with the Capitals. His numbers from last season were nearly identical to the 2.64 GAA and .917 Sv% he turned in after the Avs acquired him at the 2019 draft.
The German puckstopper is coming off a shutout over the Blues and while he wasn’t worked too hard, he turned aside all 21 shots he faced in that one.
We’ll see what he can do for an encore against one of the league’s worst offenses from a season ago tonight.
The Kings just couldn’t finish last season. Despite ranking fourth in shots per game, their offense finished 30th in the league ahead of only the historically-poor Red Wings who averages just 2.00 goals per game while the Kings averaged 2.53 themselves.
The Kings’ 5v5 shooting rate also finished 30th, ahead of only the Red Wings while their high-danger rate at 5v5 ranked 28th.
It’s largely the same group we saw last season. We’ll see some of their prospects debut this season such as Lias Andersson after the Kings acquired the disgruntled Swede from the New York Rangers this offseason, but the veteran core remains from their Cup-winning heyday.
Newcomer Andreas Athanasiou is off to a hot start with two goals in two games and the Kings have scored six times in two games so far as the Kings dropped a pair of 4-3 overtime games to the Minnesota Wild to open their season.
That said, the Kings were thoroughly outplayed in that one as they posted a 39.7% expected goals for percentage at 5v5 and generated just 37.1% of the scoring chances and 24% of the high-danger chances, all three of which are the worst numbers in the NHL in the season’s early stages.
It doesn’t appear we should expect much of a bounce back from this Kings offense this season.
Despite struggling on the whole last season, the Kings’ defense wasn’t to blame.
They ranked 14th in overall defense a season ago and deserved that fate. They ranked 14th in expected goals against/60 and scoring chances against/60 at 5v5 as well as 13th in high-danger chances against/60. They did so despite ranking 21st in 5v5 save percentage and tying for 26th in overall save percentage.
It’s a defense that’s at least improved on paper. Top-four rearguard Olli Maatta was acquired in a salary dump from the Chicago Blackhawks while Sean Walker emerged into the team’s top-six. The Kings will graduate top defensive prospect Mikey Anderson on a full-time basis this season and I would warn against writing Drew Doughty off as washed up at the age of 31.
For the most part, the Kings should be at least an adequate defense this season, especially in a West division that is largely offensively challenged.
Jonathan Quick started both ends of the two-game set with the Wild and tonight it’s Cal Petersen’s turn to begin his season.
The 26-year-old is regarded as the team’s goaltender of the future, but his work in the minors last season didn’t help his cause a whole lot. Petersen worked to a 3.43 GAA and .906 Sv% in 37 games with the AHL’s Ontario Reign a season ago, but fared much better in his eight NHL appearances, posting a 2.64 GAA and .922 Sv% in that time. He’s actually fared quite well at the NHL level, posting a 2.62 GAA and .923 Sv% across 19 games to this point in his young career.
The contrast between his AHL and NHL work is quite interesting. Petersen struggled at the AHL level two seasons ago as well, posting a 4.02 GAA and .896 SV% in 38 games. He was excellent in three seasons at the University of Notre Dame, but his professional resume leaves plenty to be desired despite quality results in his small NHL sample size to this point.
He will certainly have his hands full against these Avs tonight.
Avalanche vs. Kings NHL Pick
The Kings have themselves one of the league’s top prospect pools, but that’s not likely to help them a whole lot quite yet. It will be a slow burn for many of the team’s draft capital, so it’s up to the vets once again this season.
As we sit today, we have two teams at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in the west. The Avs sit at +150 favorites to win the division, and the Kings sit at the bottom of the eight teams with +2200 odds, slightly behind the Ducks and Sharks who both reside at +2000.
They haven’t look too bad in collecting points in each of their first two games this season, and did so against a quality defensive team in the Minnesota Wild.
However, they also allowed four goals in both of those games to an offense that is far inferior to the one they will see tonight. These Avs are potent and deep up front, and their ability to defend with the best of them makes them one of the best teams in the NHL and the Stanley Cup favorite (+700).
Add it up and I’m looking at that Avalanche -1.5 puckline price at +100 and I’m seeing value. We’ll see how it shakes out, but that’s the play between two teams bound for opposite directions this season.