In a way, the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers deserve each other. Both franchises have struggled to live up to lofty expectations. The Avs are regular-season warriors, but this is the first time since 2002 they’ve made it out of the second round. Edmonton is grateful to be included in the playoffs, failing to earn a postseason berth in 12 of the past 16 seasons.
According to NHL betting odds, Colorado is -250 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Avalanche won both their series decisively. Nathan MacKinnon and Co. swept the Nashville Predators in Round 1 then dispatched the St. Louis Blues in six games. Colorado has the metrics to back up sustained success, building off its exceptional regular season. Still, there are a couple of X-factors worth considering before hopping on the Avs’ bandwagon.
Here are some NHL betting picks and analysis for the series.
Avalanche vs. Oilers Series Odds
Series Price: Avalanche -250 | Oilers +200
Series Spread: Avalanche -1.5 (-110) | Oilers +1.5 (-110)
Total Games: 4 Games (+500), 5 Games (+250), 6 Games (+210), 7 Games (+220)
Avalanche vs. Oilers Analysis
No team has looked more impressive than the Avalanche through the first two rounds of the postseason. Colorado has a 59.8% expected goals-for rating at five-on-five, jumping to 62.0% across all strengths. The Avs are playing a sustainable 200-foot game, getting the best of their opponents at both ends of the ice.
Through 10 games, the Avs are averaging 10.4 high-danger chances per game while allowing a modest 6.9. That advantage is more pronounced in scoring opportunities, with the Avalanche posting a net +11.6 difference, attempting 28.4 compared to 16.8 chances allowed.
However, improved defensive zone coverage and increased offensive efficiency have done nothing to address the Avs’ goaltending woes.
Darcy Kuemper has looked subpar through most of the past two rounds, stopping .903 percentage of shots or fewer in five of the 10 playoff games and posting a cumulative .904 save percentage. Those inconsistent performances stretch back to before the playoffs, with Kuemper putting together a .886 save percentage over his last seven starts in the regular season. Altogether, the Avs’ netminder is stopping .895 percent over his previous 17 appearances.
Kuemper will face a stiffer challenge from the Oilers’ top line of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evander Kane. Draisaitl and McDavid are tied for the playoff scoring lead, accumulating 26 points apiece through their first 12 playoff games. Kane has been the beneficiary, sitting atop the goal-scoring column with 12 goals and a 23.5% shooting percentage.
There are no concerns about Edmonton being able to keep pace with the Avalanche. The Oilers have attempted the second-most high-danger chances and third-most scoring opportunities, averaging 11.1 and 27, respectively. Those solid offensive outings have staked the Oilers to a 53.2% expected goals-for rating at five-on-five.
The Oilers’ efforts cannot be discounted, as they maintained their production against one of the stingiest teams in the league. The Calgary Flames ended the season with some of the best defensive ratings. Still, they couldn’t shut down the Oilers, allowing 30 high-danger chances over the last three games of the Western Conference Semifinal. When adjusted for the opponent, Edmonton’s metrics look even better.
Goaltending has been an issue for both teams throughout the season, but the Oilers’ netminder Mike Smith is in better form than Kuemper. That’s not enough to tip the balances in their favor, but it should lead to a closer than anticipated series.
Offense will be on full display, and the Oilers’ goaltending should hold up better than Colorado’s. Edmonton may not be able to snatch a series win, but they should at least be able to keep it close.
Avalanche vs. Oilers Predictions
The Pick: Oilers +1.5 Games -110