|COL (-169) @ pinnacle|
4 of 4 Experts (100%) with a pick on the moneyline are aligned. 9* play on the Colorado Avalanche (Straight-up).
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They didn’t earn the West’s top seed. But Colorado is a team to watch. Not just in this series, which they figure to dominate. But throughout the entire playoffs as they are very capable of making a deep run. The Avalanche had the West’s #1 goal differential before the stoppage. Here in the Round of 16, they draw an Arizona team that’s off its first playoff series win in eight years. That came on the heels of their GM quitting right before entering the bubble. While the Coyotes may not have had much trouble dispatching Nashville in four games, the Avs are a whole different class of opponent. They had the possession advantage in all three round robin games, averaging 37.7 shots on goal while allowing only 28.3. Arizona’s Darcy Keumper was as good as expected against the Preds, but he faced 163 shots in the qualification round, which was more than any other goaltender. Once again, he figures to be under siege in this series. The only difference being that Colorado has more talented skaters than Nashville. Interesting that the ‘Yotes are just 9-20 the last 29 times playing on three or more days rest. Look for the Avs to roll in Game 1.
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The set-up: The Coyotes have an interesting mix of youth and veteran leadership and while I do think Arizona will win a couple games in this series, I ultimately look for the Avs to prevail in the end and in Game 1. Yes Arizona squeaked by Nashville in its opening round series, but Colorado's offense is on an entirely different level.
The pick: The Avs aren't afraid to get dirty either. This will for sure be an interesting series, but Colorado is fresher, deeper and more talented. All things considered, I feel this line could/should in fact be a lot larger.
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The Avs shocked the hockey world in last year's playoffs, upsetting the #1 ranked Calgary Flames in the first round. They went on to lose in the second round to the vetern San Jose Sharks. This playoff experience will be invaluable for the likes of Nathan McKinnon and Cale Makar. Colorado is younger, faster and far more talented than the Arizona Coyotes. "Obviously you can see their skill," Coyotes center Derek Stepan said. "They have it throughout their entire lineup, but they defend extremely hard, too. They've got shot blockers. We've certainly got our hands full. This is one of the best teams in the NHL, so we better be ready to play." The Coyotes are 3-8 in their last 11 games following a win, while the Avs are 11-4 in their last 15 overall.
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I just don’t see Arizona as being capable of making this into a competitive series. Thus, I’ll be backing the Avalanche here in Game 1. I’ve previously espoused the virtues of the Avs many times. While they failed to come through for me Saturday against Vegas, a loss which cost them the #1 seed in the Western Conference, they did get the job done against Dallas in 4-0 fashion. They went 2-0-1 in the round robin format, outshooting and out-possessing each opponent. They are, at least on paper, the West’s best team.
The Coyotes entered the playoffs as an 11-seed. I did think they got a favorable draw in the qualification series with Nashville, whom they ousted in just four games. It was the franchise’s first series win since 2012. That it came right after their GM abandoned them had to feel good. But the ‘Yotes are in over their head now in the Round of 16. Of all 12 playoff teams in the Western side of the draw, they scored the second fewest goals (ahead of only Dallas).
The key to the series for Arizona is going to be goalie Darcy Keumper, who was lights out against the Predators. He had a .933 save percentage in the four games, pretty remarkable considering he faced 163 shots. That was the most shots faced by any goalie in the previous round. Unfortunately for Keumper, Colorado averaged 37.7 shots/game in the round-robin and they led the Western Conf in goals during the regular season. Arizona allowed 11 goals in four games last round while the Avs allowed just five in three games.
Best of luck!
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