Boy is it really hard to make a case for the Nashville Predators in their Round 1 series against the Colorado Avalanche. This series already looked like a gigantic mismatch on paper, but it’s an even wider one now that Nashville’s biggest position of strength has turned into a weakness with the injury to goaltender Juuse Saros.
With Saros out, the only real argument that you can make for the Predators in this series is that they get incredibly lucky. And while that notion is one of the things that makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs so great — anything can happen — it’s not the type of angle you want to bet on.
And even if they do get the lion’s share of the puck luck in this encounter, it probably won’t be enough for Nashville to stick with Colorado over the course of a best-of-7. Any team can win on any night in hockey, but asking Nashville to do it over and over again is a bit outlandish.
As for Game 1, the odds tell the story. Colorado is currently sitting as a -330 favorite, which gives the Avalanche an implied win probability of nearly 77 percent.
And it’s hard to argue with those odds.
With Saros out, the Predators will now need a below-average goaltender to keep Nashville in the game against one of the league’s most dynamic attacks. Colorado ended up finishing fourth in goals per game and 5-on-5 scoring, but the Avs also dealt with a litany of injury issues to key players from Opening Night on. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri all missed considerable time this season.
Now fully healthy, we may finally see this team hit its ceiling — which is a scary proposition considering it just finished second overall this regular season.
And while Colorado’s offense deserves the hype, this is not a one-dimensional team. The Avalanche finished inside the top-10 in goals against and expected goals allowed, showing that they aren’t just an offensive powerhouse.
Colorado should have its way with the Predators at 5-on-5 and with David Rittich backing up a pedestrian defense, it’s likely that, should the Avs win, it comes by multiple goals.
Backing Colorado on the puckline at -130 should pay off more often than the odds imply and taking a shot on the Avs to score over 4.5 goals at +130 also seems a worthy bet.
The Bet: Colorado -1.5 (-130); Colorado team total O4.5 (+130)