Previewing the Edmonton Oilers/Colorado Avalanche Playoff Series

by Team Del Genio

It is rare for the oddsmakers to install the over/under number at 7, and it is even rarer for the oddsmakers to move past 6.5 to 7s in the conference finals in the NHL playoffs. Yet this is where the oddsmakers are between these two high-powered scoring teams that both averaged 4.3 goals per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. After the Avalanche took the opening game of this series on Tuesday by an 8-6 score, this series seems destined to have the over/unders installed at 7 or even, daresay, 7.5 the rest of the way. 

The Edmonton Oilers reached the Western Conference finals with a 5-4 victory in overtime at Calgary on Thursday to end that series in five games. The Oilers scored five times for the third time in four games with that win. They have scored at least four goals in eight of their twelve playoffs games, and they have scored at least five goals in half of those twelve games in the postseason. 

Edmonton is led by the best player in the NHL in Conner McDavid who has scored seven times in the playoffs and assisted on another 19 goals in the first two rounds of the playoffs. He is joined by Leon Draisaitl who has generated 26 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs as well. Evander Kane has thrived playing on the top line with that pair. He had 12 goals in the first two rounds with a remarkable 23.5% shooting percentage in the postseason. Zach Hyman added another eight goals in the first two rounds of the playoffs. 

Yet the Oilers were giving up 3.1 goals per game even before Colorado scored eight times against them in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Mike Smith has put up good numbers with a .927 save percentage after the first two rounds yet he has committed several miscues that have cost his team goals. The Flames scored at least three goals in four of the five games against them. 

Edmonton began the playoffs with a seven-game series with the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers shut out the Kings, 2-0, in Game 7 to win the series and advance to face Calgary. Edmonton had an 8-4 record after the first two rounds of the playoffs with 52 goals and 37 goals allowed in those twelve games.

Colorado moved past St. Louis with a 3-2 victory on the road on Friday to end that series in six games. There three previous games with the Blues had at least seven combined goals scored, with two of those games having nine combined goals scored. The Avalanche had scored 10 power-play goals in the playoffs with a 34.5% conversion rate after the first two rounds of the playoffs. Colorado has scored at least five goals in five of their ten playoff games, and they have scored six or more goals three times. 

Nathan MacKinnon leads the way with eight goals and five assists in their ten games. Mikko Rantanen has 11 points yet has only scored once despite scoring 36 goals in the regular season. 

Yet Colorado had allowed 3.2 goals per game in their last five games against St. Louis with goalie Darcy Kuemper posting a .857 save percentage in his last three games. The season-ending injury to defenseman Samuel Girard in the fourth game of the series with the Blues makes the challenge to stop their opponents even stiffer.

The Avalanche began the playoffs with a four-game sweep of the Nashville Predators. Colorado scored 43 times in their ten games in the first two rounds of the playoffs while giving up 27 goals. The oddsmakers have installed them as a money line favorite of -160 or higher in all ten of their playoff games. 

The results of Game 1 suggest the oddsmakers will keep posting an over/under of 7 in this series. Yet bettors should be aware that of the three goals scored in the third period, one was a late empty netter by the Avalanche. There may be unders coming on the horizon, especially when combined scores of six will pay off under tickets. The Oilers appear capable of staying competitive in this series as well in this showdown between McDavid and MacKinnon after almost forcing overtime after trailing 7-4 after two periods.

Good luck - TDG.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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