The Pittsburgh Penguins make a stop in Colorado to pay a visit to the hopeless Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have gone from one of the up and comers in the NHL, to a team who are the worst in the league. Patrick Roy came in as the head coach with a bang, and he went out with a whimper. The Avs had an epic regular season in the early goings, but everything ended with Roy taking an abrupt leave from behind the bench. Just like that, a team who looked like they were threatening to be one of the leagues best two years’ prior, were lost without a leader.
There are screw-ups all the way down the line with this organization. There are a lot of people to point the finger at for this fiasco. The most obvious I can note is how they let go of Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly. The reasoning here is that they were going to have no money left to sign Tyson Barrie, who they were thought very highly of. Barrie has been playing like a third-tier defenceman, while Stastny and O’Reilly are enjoying considerable success with their new teams.
I am sure the frustration from Roy started sometime around then. He wasn’t excited about the direction the team he was going in so he simply quit. Things weren’t too pretty for the Avs in his final season as head coach, with the Avalanche failing to reach the playoffs that year. However, they’re a dumpster fire without a firefighter in sight to put it out. The Avs enter tonight with a record of 15-33-1 but to their credit they have two wins in a row heading into their clash with Pittsburgh.
It’s not saying much considering they lost nine games before that, including a stretch where they went 1-14. Oh, come on, a little effort would garner better results than that. There just isn’t any energy coming from the Avs at the moment. Jared Bednar’s job will be laying in the balance this offseason. It’s going to be tough for him to survive even though he did not have a fair opportunity, as he was hired in August and had to pick up the pieces from Patrick Roy. Let’s get straight to our pick below.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick
The only chance for the Avalanche in this game is that the Pens don’t take them seriously. It happens, and it could happen tonight in Colorado. However, the Penguins come in as convincing favorites as -210 to -225 favorites depending on where you play. The Pens are coming off a shootout loss to the Flames, a 3-2 decision two nights ago. Note, though, they’ve won seven of their last ten games and are 33-13-4 on the year, so all is well in Pittsburgh. The Pens are averaging a whopping 3.54 goals per game for 1st in the NHL.
The Avalanche are all the way at the bottom in scoring at 2.06 goals per game. They’re also last in defensive numbers, as the Avs are surrendering 3.34 goals per game. Just ugly, ugly hockey out of Colorado this season and it doesn’t appear that it’s going to get any better tonight against the high-octane Penguins. Like I said, if the Pens couldn’t care less about tonight, the Avs may find a way to stick around. But if Pittsburgh plays average hockey they should be able to beat the Avalanche comfortably. They haven’t won three straight games all season long, and I don’t expect it to come tonight against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. We’re getting a tremendous price on the Pens -1.5 here.
PICK: PENGUINS -1.5 (+145)