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NHL Odds & Betting Picks: Wild vs. Avalanche
This game may have a lot more to do with who isn’t playing than who is on the ice, but when it’s a superstar like Nathan MacKinnon, it matters. Listed as week-to-week by coach Jared Bednar, the Avalanche will be without the centerman for this match in Colorado. Along with MacKinnon, the Avalanche will also be missing some blueliners in Erik Johnson and Devon Toews. These injuries are forcing the Avalanche to move up inexperienced players like Bowen Byram and Conor Timmins. J.T. Compher will be taking over top line duties for MacKinnon, but as we’ve seen in the past, it’s a huge drop-off in production with his negative xGA.
The Wild have their share of guys missing this game as well, with forwards Marcus Foligno (COVID) and Kevin Fiala serving the last game of his suspension for a boarding major. They will also be without defenseman Matt Dumba for the foreseeable future after he wrecked his knee late in the first game of this series.
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You would likely be surprised to see both of these teams are carrying similar records considering the talent gap, but it bears credence to the importance of injuries, schedule and defense. In regards to NHL betting, it’s hard to quantify some of those things, but we can sure try. The Avalanche’s best defense is their offense, and so far this year they aren’t carrying the load. The only offensive stat in which they are currently in the top 10 is goals per game, and they are exactly 10th. That number isn’t going to get it done for a team that lacks a shutdown line. Now, with some shuffling being done, the continuity (or lack thereof) is expected to be lacking. As mentioned above, Mikko Rantanen‘s and Gabriel Landeskog‘s production goes way down without MacKinnon in there.
The Wild showed last game how they could control the pace of the game once MacKinnon was removed, allowing just 7 shots in the last period. Their neutral-zone control proved to be difficult for the Avalanche to crack once they lost the second-fastest player in the league. In the third game of their four-game series, I’d expect them to employ a similar attack to last game with key missing players on both sides. Without MacKinnon, the Avalanche are a completely different team, and if you wanted to hop on the under expecting an uglier game, I would have little argument.
Nick Suzuki ended last year scoring 3 goals in his final two games and has picked up where he left off with 3 goals this year. Getting a matchup with a defense on pace to be the worst in NHL history makes for good NHL betting. Bottom four in the league in every defensive category known to man, the Canadiens are going to get tons of opportunities to score. Being on the top power play and getting 18 minutes per night bodes well for Suzuki.
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