Blues vs. Avalanche series odds, prediction, preview

The Colorado Avalanche gave us no reasons to doubt their status as Stanley Cup favorites in a Round 1 sweep of the Nashville Predators. The Preds were there for the taking and missing their team MVP in goal, but Colorado dominated from start to finish en route to a 4-0 series victory and a 21 to 9 aggregate advantage on the scoreboard in the four games.

But the truth is we’re not going to learn anything about the Avs in a sweep over a mediocre team missing its most important player. The St. Louis Blues – the Colorado team unceremoniously swept out of last spring’s first-round – will provide a much stiffer test than Nashville, though the bookmakers still see this as a relatively straightforward matchup. The Avalanche are -350 favorites to defeat the Blues in this series. St. Louis is a +275 underdog.

Those odds line up with the public perception of how this series should shake out. The Blues are a strong team and won’t go down quietly, but ultimately Colorado should prove to be too much.

But there are some feasible paths to success for the Blues in this best-of-7 and it all starts up front with St. Louis’ forward depth.

Blues vs. Avalanche series odds

Odds provided by BetMGM

Series moneyline: Blues (+275) vs. Avalanche (-350)

Series spread: Avalanche -1.5 (-170) vs. Blues +1.5 (+140)

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Blues vs. Avalanche series preview and prediction

Few teams can reasonably match the Avalanche line for line upfront. The Blues happen to be one of those teams. With three legitimate scoring lines, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that St. Louis is able to create enough offense to give the Avs a run for their money. The Blues finished third overall in goals per game and fifth in 5-on-5 scoring during the regular season and they’ll need every bit of that firepower to compete with the Avalanche.

What is encouraging for the Blues is that they do not necessarily need to dominate possession or run up the shot clock to have success. Over the course of the season, the Blues finished in the bottom-10 in expected goals rate, shot attempt share and high-danger chance percentage. For some teams, that would be a major red flag, but public data often misses some important things when it comes to calculating chance quality (like goalie movement, whether or not the goalie is screened, pre-shot puck movement, etc.) and St. Louis’ scoring rates have been consistently high all season so they’re clearly doing something right.

An opportunistic offense is necessary to beat Colorado since the Avalanche will likely have the lion’s share of the puck. That is totally fine with the Blues, who only had a 42.8 percent expected goals rate in their six-game series win over the Wild.

As with any series in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the goaltending matchup will determine just how much of a chance the underdog has. Jordan Binnington was hot and cold for St. Louis over the past two seasons, but he was in terrific form against the Wild after taking over for Ville Husso. Binnington skated to a .943 save percentage and +2.1 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) in three games against Minnesota.

Blues vs Avalanche series
St. Louis Blues
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At the other end of the ice will be Darcy Kuemper. After a sparkling regular season in which he posted a .921 save percentage and +21 GSAx in 57 games, Kuemper looked in good form against Nashville until he suffered a freak eye injury in Game 3. Kuemper has been given a clean bill of health, but he’s been off for 10 days so he may be dealing with some rust to open the series.

Outside of that, the Avs do not really have any key injury issues. The same can not be said of the Blues, who were able to defeat the Wild despite a host of injuries to their blueline.

The storyline surrounding the Avalanche is that they’re a brilliant team that can’t take the next step. This is their fifth consecutive postseason, but Colorado has not made it past Round 2 since 2001-02. That narrative should have no bearing on where you put your money for this series, but it is what the media will be buzzing about should the Avs struggle to get a stranglehold of this best-of-7.

Colorado is the better team in this matchup. The Avalanche are the Stanley Cup favorites for a reason and while the Blues are certainly dangerous, there are no teams in the NHL that can claim to be in the same tier as the Avalanche.

That said, getting +275 odds on St. Louis in a best-of-7 series is absolutely worth a look. Those odds imply that the Blues have a 25.6 percent chance of winning, which seems a little low considering St. Louis’ depth and ability to score. Anything can happen in a seven-game series and there are enough paths to success to bet the Blues to pull a stunner at this number.

Blues vs. Avalanche series prediction

St. Louis Blues to win the series +320 (Caesars Sportsbook)

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