DENVER – First-round foes from last year now square off in the second round. The St. Louis Blues go head-to-head with the Colorado Avalanche in playoffs for the second straight season.
While both teams are built differently from last year, oddsmakers are calling for a similar outcome. Several sports betting agencies are siding with the Colorado Avalanche and giving the Blues some of the toughest odds of the eight remaining teams competing for the Stanley Cup.
MoneyPuck.com, a hockey analytics website, gives the Blues a 29.7% chance of advancing to the third round, the worst odds of any remaining team aside from the New York Rangers.
The MoneyPuck research team notes that the deeper the Blues can get into the series, the better their odds will be in overcoming the Avalanche. The Blues have a 2.6% chance of sweeping the Avalanche, 5.9% chance of winning in five games, 10.1% chance of winning in six games and a 11.1% chance of winning at the longest-possible length of seven games.
Six sports betting agencies, including DraftKings and BetMGM, are offering moneylines between +175 and +190 for Game 1. Meaning a $100 bet on the Blues winning the second-round series could mean a payout of nearly double the original bet if they pull off an upset.
Heading into Tuesday’s series opener, BetMGM says the Blues are +275 underdogs and the Avalanche are -345 favorites to win the second-round series. DraftKings gives the Blues a moneyline of +290 for the series and -390 for the Avalanche, though data crunchers believe the series will extend to seven games.
At least one hockey legend thinks the Blues could pull off an upset. Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, has a perfect bracket heading into the second round of playoffs. The Great One is picking his former team to defeat the Avalanche in Round 2.
While the Blues enter Round 2 as underdogs, several factors could play a difference in getting past the Avalanche. The production of goaltender Jordan Binnington, who won three straight games after his playoff-season debut in Game 4, could certainly be critical. Binnington stopped 83 of 88 shots in the first round. He will likely be challenged in some high-intensity situations against Colorado, having stopped at least 30 shots in eight of his last nine head-to-head matchups.
The Blues could also sneak away with some victories by winning the special teams battle. The powerplay and penalty-kill units thrived in Round 1 against the Minnesota Wild, as the Blues scored in nearly 31% percent of their powerplay opportunities and prevented goals on nearly 88% of their penalties.
Wins could fall to whichever team has their top scorers produce more frequently. Cale Makar, regarded as one of the top-scoring defensemen in the league, dished out 10 points in a four-game sweep of the Nashville Predators. Savvy veterans on the Blues, like David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, all had five goals in the first round. Getting goals early in game, particularly from the top performers, could be massive as the Blues and Avalanche scored first in all of their combined Round 1 wins.
The second-round series begins Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. CT. Games 2-4 will be played on Thursday, Saturday and Monday evenings respectively. Times for the rest of the series schedule are to be determined.