The Colorado Avalanche play host to the new-look Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, but will be without star center Nathan MacKinnon. The perennial Hart Trophy finalist tested positive for COVID and, though he is asymptomatic, he will miss his team’s opening game.
The absence of MacKinnon has bumped the Avalanche down to -200 from its opener of -290 per their NHL betting lines. However, plenty of online sports betting has been toward the Blackhawks even before this news of MacKinn broke out.
|Team||Puck Line||Moneyline||Total||Team Total|
|Chicago||+1½ -140||+170||6 -120o||2½ -120o/-120u|
|Colorado||-1½ +120||-200||6 Evu||3½ -125o/-115u|
Blackhawks: New Look, Same Team
Chicago dominated the NHL offseason thanks to making an array of moves that placed them as one of the more-improved teams, on paper. Whether or not it pays off is the question, but Chicago has at least made itself relevant again.
The Blackhawks traded away fading defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and inked Seth Jones to a massive deal. The team also acquired reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury for next to nothing as well as depth forward Tyler Johnson.
More importantly, the Blackhawks will be bolstered by the returns of team captain and two-way center Jonathan Toews and 2019 third-overall pick Kirby Dach. Chicago was one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL last season. Betting online on the Hawks may be trendy, but this team is fool’s gold until it proves otherwise.
Avalanche: No Mac, No Problem
Without question, MacKinnon is the Avalanche’s best player. However, this juggernaut can do without him. Colorado went 6-1-1 without MacKinnon last season, outscoring teams 28-16 and outshooting them 35-21.5 on average even if the power play sputtered to just 19.2 percent.
The Avalanche scored the most goals last season and dominated on 5v5. They were seemingly unbeatable until Vegas outlasted them in the playoffs. They have player in star power in winger Mikko Rantanen, Andre Burakovsky and defenseman Cale Makar.
Mikko Rantanen has some mighty fine scoring touch. He jabs in an Andre Burakovsky pass from an awkward angle to make it 2-1 Colorado.
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) October 10, 2021
Defenseman Devon Toews (shoulder) is also absent. But Colorado weathered plenty of absences throughout last season and still finished on top of the league. When this team is clicking, it takes over games and only a handful of NHL teams can break through the Avalanche.
Colorado should win even without MacKinnon and Toews. The Avalanche have a more structured game and will own the Blackhawks on 5v5. Chicago had a better corsi rating in two road games against Colorado, but the Avalanche generated more scoring chances and had a better PDO.
Even if Colorado only went 3-3 against Chicago in their last six home games, they outscored them 22-15. Colorado has also won 13 of its last 14 games at home last season, averaging four goals and shooting 37 shots. The Avs nearly doubled their goal total of their opponents.
Chicago was one of the worst road teams last season, ranking in the bottom-four on 5v5 metrics like shots for percent (SF%) and PDO. It also went 11-14-3 overall on the road.
Fleury posted a 4-3-0 record against Colorado in the regular season, but that was with the significantly tougher Golden Knights. He’ll be left out to dry by the porous Chicago defense and that’s why Colorado dominates here.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche -1½ (+120)
A “safer” alternative to betting Colorado is to take them to win in regulation at -135. Only eight of Colorado’s 56 games last season went beyond 60 minutes. They led the NHL in regulation wins at 35 and it wasn’t close.