The Colorado Avalanche became yet another victim of the Vegas Golden Knights last night. The Avs suffered a 7-0 beatdown at expense of the Golden Knights, who advance to 8-1-0 on the year. If you’ve just awoken from a coma, that isn’t a typo, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights have lost just 1 game this season. Like I always say, it’s a long year and things start to shake out evenly. I don’t feel the Golden Knights will be a playoff team when it’s all said and done. It’s not easy to reach the playoffs in the NHL. This isn’t the NBA where an average record gets you a ticket. With that said, you can’t take anything away from the Golden Knights.
The Blackhawks and Avalanche have both already suffered losses against the Knights. Last night they were in action, with the Avs getting blown out, and Preds taking a 2-1 win over the Hawks in Chicago. It’s been a mediocre start for the Blackhawks, who are 5-4-2 heading into Saturday night. In October, records don’t necessarily mean much. As long as you don’t look like a dumpster fire and hold it together, reading into team records at this point isn’t a strong predictor for the future. A team like the Blues and Penguins will flirt near the top all season long, but it’s hard to have faith in the 6-3-1 Canucks or 8-1-0 Golden Knights.
The Avalanche are 5-5-0 and that’s probably better than most people expected. After all of doom and gloom in the offseason, the Avs should be more of a 2-7-0 team at this juncture. I would be shocked to see them with a record above .500 in a month or two, though. The Avalanche have continued to receive deals for Matt Duchene, who has been playing okay considering the distractions. The better Duchene plays, the Avs will receive better deals, so there is a major incentive having him play well. I’ve said it before, Duchene could be the final missing piece for a contender, so the Avalanche will get offers all the way up to the trade deadline. Let’s get to our free Blackhawks vs. Avalanche pick below.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick
For a brief snapshot of how wacky this NHL season has been thus far, look at this. The Blackhawks defeated the Penguins 10-1 to open the year, which many refer to as the class of the NHL. Then they went to Vegas and lost 4-2 to an expansion team. If you saw both of those scenarios happening, I think Nostradamus wants to schedule a meeting with you. The Blackhawks didn’t care to be playing that night in Vegas, so that could be a legitimate angle for backing the Knights all season long at home. They’re going to hit a wall, but will still take advantage of rusty teams in Vegas.
It looks like the Blackhawks will turn to Anton Forsberg between the pipes tonight. Crawford will get the night off after losing the Preds a night ago. Forsberg enters with a 2.81 GAA and 0.929 save percentage. He’s been stashed in the Blue Jacket minor league system the last few years, and is getting his first opportunity as a full-time member of a pro team.
Conversely, it appears that Jonathan Bernier will be in net for the Avalanche. Unlike Forsberg, Bernier has been around the block a time or two. He is in his tenth year, and at this point, there isn’t much of an incentive for him to get better. He’s accepted that he will be a backup for the rest of his career. Bernier enters with a GAA of 3.03 and 0.894 save percentage.
Hawks have gone 6-2 in their last eight against the Avalanche, and 5-2 in Colorado. The Blackhawks have lost their last two games, and four of their last five. Joel Quenneville is not going to allow his team to lose to the Golden Knights and Avalanche within a few days of one another. I think we’re going to actually see some effort from the Hawks tonight. If Forsberg plays reasonably well, they should get this one.
PICK: BLACKHAWKS (-130)