Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#19 St. Louis Blues 5.5 vs.
#20 Colorado Avalanche -115
Sunday, August 2, 2020 at 6:30pm EDT
Pepsi Center, Denver
Written by Chris Kubala

After more than four and a half months, hockey returns to the ice this weekend. While 16 of the 24 teams in the respective hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton are battling in best of five qualifying series to make the actual playoff field, the remaining eight teams are battling for seeding in the playoff picture. That’s the case in the contest between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche Sunday evening as the teams meet in one of the round-robin matchups for the Western Conference. St. Louis won their final game before the pause, downing the Ducks 4-2 on the road back on March 11. Colorado won 3-2 in overtime at home against the Rangers in their last game on March 11. The teams split four meetings in the regular season with the home team prevailing each time. In the most recent matchup, it was the Avalanche skating to a 5-3 victory on January 18, 2020.

St. Louis Blues Looking to Start Title Defense With Victory

St. Louis won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history last season and they hope to chase a repeat title this season. The Blues went into the pause with the top record in the Western Conference by two points over Colorado. St. Louis is an above average team as far as lighting the lamp as they put up 3.14 goals per game on the year. The Blues are above average in their own end by allowing 2.66 goals per contest this year. St. Louis is terrific at cashing in with the man advantage as the team converts 24.3 percent of their power play chances this season. The Blues are an average team when it comes to penalty killing as they successfully kill off 79.3 percent of their shorthanded situations this season.

In the final game before the pause, the Blues completed a game that was originally contested on February 11 that was postponed after defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident at the 12:10 mark of the opening period. At that point, the game was tied at one as Adam Henrique scored for the Ducks before Ivan Barbashev knotted the game with his 11th of the season off an assist from Jordan Kyoru. After the game restarted, Alex Pietrangelo scored his 15th of the year, on the power play, at 16:08 off assists from Brayden Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly to give the Blues a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes while holding a 16-9 edge in shots on goal. In the second period, St. Louis was outshot 10-9 with each team scoring once, leaving St. Louis up 3-2 after 40 minutes. After Anaheim tied the game at two, Zach Sanford gave the Blues a 3-2 lead with his 16th of the year at 17:13 of the period off assists from O’Reilly and Sammy Blais. The final period saw the Blues with a 12-8 edge in shots on goal and they tallied the lone marker to salt the game away. Pietrangelo scored his second of the game and 16th of the year, into an empty net, at the 19:00 mark off an assist from Justin Faulk. Jake Allen kicked out 26 shots as the Blues held a 37-27 edge in shots on goal in the contest. Jordan Binnington is likely to get the start here.

Colorado Avalanche Ready to Move Toward Postseason

Colorado overcame injuries on a regular basis this season and pushed the Blues all season long in the Central Division as they were right on their heels when the season came to a halt. The Avalanche had 92 points when the season was paused, which was second in the Central Division and the Western Conference as a whole, two points behind the Blues. Colorado is fourth in the league in goals for as they average 3.37 goals per game this season. The Avalanche is 6th in the league in goals against by giving up 2.71 goals per contest. Colorado is 19th in the league with the man advantage as they cash in 19.1 percent of their chances on the power play this season. The Avalanche is tied for 13th in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 81.4 percent of their shorthanded situations.

In the win over the Rangers in their final game before the pause, the Avalanche dug down deep and rallied after giving up the tying goal in the final seconds of regulation to earn the victory in overtime. Colorado was outshot 10-8 in the opening period but skated off tied at one after 20 minutes of play. After falling behind 1-0 in the period, Tyson Jost tied the game with his eighth of the year, on the power play, at 11:27 off assists from Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar. The second period saw the Avalanche outshot 10-9 and tallied the lone goal of the period to take a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play. Vladmir Namestnikov scored his 17th of the season, on the power play, at 3:55 off assists from Landeskog and Makar. In the final period, the Avalanche were outshot 12-9 and gave up the lone goal to send the game to overtime. The overtime period saw Colorado hold a 2-0 edge in shots and they found the back of the net to earn the win. J.T. Compher scored his 11th of the season at 2:50 of the extra stanza off assists from Makar and Pierre-Edouard Bellamare to give the Avalanche the two points. Pavel Francouz made 30 saves in the win for Colorado, who was outshot 32-28 in the game.

Best Bets for this Game

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Full-Game Side Bet

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This contest is going to be a battle given the fact that the teams split their four meetings this season. The long pause helped both teams get healthy as the Avalanche now has Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and company back to full speed. St. Louis, meanwhile, gets Vladimir Tarasenko back in action, giving them a sniper back on their offensive attack as well. The Blues were tough all season long and they have the experience after winning the Stanley Cup last season. This one is going to be a close contest all the way through but in the end, you have to lean toward St. Louis finding a way to steal one here.

Prediction: St. Louis Blues -110

Full-Game Total Pick

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While the Avalanche is one of the league's most prolific offensive attacks, we have to take into consideration a few different factors. For starters, teams have played just one exhibition game against other teams since the pause. Sure, there have been training camps, practices and scrimmages: that was merely to help the players get their legs back and up to speed. This is where the rubber meets the road with something at stake. St. Louis is one of the league's better defensive teams as they are extremely sound in their own end of the ice. Binnington won the Stanley Cup as a rookie so he knows how to step up in crunch time. It's going to take time for guys to get back up to speed and that means that the up and down flow that we're used to may be tamped down a bit here. This one ends up under the total in a 3-2 type of contest.

Prediction: Under 5.5

Half-Time Side Pick

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This one could easily go either way as the teams have been pretty evenly matched when you break down the numbers. St. Louis owns a +9 goal differential (65-56) along with a +2 shot advantage (683-681) in the first period of games this season. When it comes to being the road team, the Blues own a +10 goal differential (37-27) despite being outshot by 24 (350-326) in the opening 20 minutes of games. Colorado has a +11 goal differential (73-62) and a +34 shot edge (748-714) in the first period overall on the year. Those numbers are +10 in goal differential at home (37-27) and a +51 shot differential (390-339) on home ice in the opening period. Things could go a lot of different ways but give St. Louis a slight edge here.

Prediction: 1st Period St. Louis Blues

Half-Time Total Bet

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St. Louis has seen an average of 1.70 goals per game in the first period of their games this season. On the road, the Blues saw that number jump up slightly as their typical first period total moved to 2.07 goals per game. Meanwhile, Colorado has seen an average of 1.93 goals per game in the opening period of contests this year. There is a negligible difference when the Avalanche are the hosts as the total moves to 1.94 goals per game in the first period on home ice this season. This one likely is a 1-1 type of game after 20 minutes of play, helping to push this one over the total as the teams head to the first intermission.

Prediction: 1st Period Over 1.5

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.