The St. Louis Blues take on the Colorado Avalanche in a Central Division battle on Saturday night. The Blues tallied a 27-20-3 record in 2021. The Avalanche won the division with a dominant 39-13-3-1 mark and topped the Blackhawks 4-1 in their home opener. Colorado won last year’s season series by a 5-3 count.
Blues Hopeful for Another Playoff Run
The St. Louis Blues head into the season with renewed optimism. They were able to qualify for the playoffs last season but were swept by this Avalanche team in the first round. The roster still has their core intact from the Stanley Cup-winning team highlighted by Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year old forward surprisingly requested a trade in the offseason but remains with the team. Tarasenko hasn’t played a whole lot in the past few seasons due to injury and should produce if he can stay healthy.
The Blues lost Jaden Schwartz in the offseason but added forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad. Buchnevich had a terrific 2021 season, accumulating 20 goals and 28 assists in 54 games played. Captain Ryan O’Reilly also enjoyed a stellar year, posting 24 goals in 56 games. David Perron, who led the team with 58 points, is also back in the mix.
The Blues have a solid goalie in Cup winner Jordan Binnington. The 28-year old was average last season, recording a mediocre 2.65 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 42 games. St. Louis scored an average of three goals per game last year, placing them 13th in the NHL. They conceded an average of three goals, landing them 20th overall.
Avs Top Blackhawks, MacKinnon Out
The Colorado Avalanche features one of the best rosters in the NHL. Anything less than a Cup win will be considered a disappointment. This squad features an elite offense however there are some question marks. They lost a few key forwards including Brandon Saad, Joonas Donskoi, and goalie Philip Grubauer to the expansion team, the Seattle Kraken. The Avs topped Chicago 4-2 in Wednesday's season opener.
The top six forwards remain mostly intact led by Nathan MacKinnon. The 26-year old star had a remarkable 2021 season, registering 20 goals and 45 assists in 48 games. MacKinnon sat out of Thursday’s series opener due to COVID and will not play in this one. Mikko Rantanen tallied an assist in Wednesday’s win. The 24-year old accrued 30 goals last year and is one of the best forwards in the league. Captain Gabriel Landeskog found the back of the net on Wednesday. Unfortunately, Landeskog was dealt a two-game suspension for boarding.
Colorado brought in Darcy Kuemper to guard the cage in place of Gruabuer. The veteran goalie is solid however, he wasn’t quite as effective last year with the Coyotes, posting a 2.56 GAA and a .910 save percentage. The Avs led the entire NHL with 3.5 goals per game last season. They conceded an average of 2.4 goals, placing them fourth overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Blues have yet to play a game this season and I view it as a disadvantage. Colorado was terrific in the season opener, topping the Blackhawks by a 4-2 score. The Avs have a loaded forward core and they will be one of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL again this year.
Furthermore, Avs’ new goalie Darcy Kuemper was tremendous against the Blues last season, sporting a stifling 2.00 GAA and a .929 save % in six meetings as a member of the Coyotes. I like the puck line considering all four of Colorado's victories against the Blues in the playoffs last year occurred by three or more goals.
Full-Game Total Pick
I expect a barrage of goals. The Avs accumulated a remarkable 20 goals in four games against the Blues in their opening-round sweep last year. Blues Goalie Jordan Binnington was in the net in all four games. The Avs picked up where they left off with four goals in Wednesday’s win against Chicago. This Colorado team led the NHL in goals last season and also feature an elite power play.
In addition, the Blues can score. They ranked 13th in goals scored last season. They also feature one of the best power plays. The Avs gave up 34 shots against the Blackhawks in their season opener. The over is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings between these foes and it will deliver in this one.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The over on the Avs team total should deliver. They were able to collect four goals on Wednesday without their best player in Nathan MacKinnon. Also, Colorado scored at least four goals in all four games in their first-round sweep of the Blues last year.
Half-Time Prop Prediction
I am opting for the under on the first period total. The Blues' best defensive period last season occurred in the first with only 46 goals allowed while the Avs only conceded 41. Colorado’s lowest-scoring period in 2021 was in the first with 55 goals compared to 79 in the second.