Spilko's Tuesday NHL Playoffs Series Pick: Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers in Western Conference Final
The NHL’s postseason is now down to just four teams vying for the Stanley Cup. The Western Conference will feature a star-studded matchup with the Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers. The Eastern Conference will have a rematch of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final as the Tampa Bay Lightning will face the New York Rangers.
Let’s examine the best bet to take out of these two remaining series.
Western Conference Final: Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers
It’ll be a battle of offensive firepower when the Stanley Cup favorite Avalanche take on a Connor McDavid-led Oilers team in what should be a thrilling, fast-paced series.
The Oilers are coming off a more impressive second-round win over the Calgary Flames, while the Avalanche evaded the St. Louis Blues in six games to advance despite losing plenty of momentum after Game 5.
The favorite here is clearly Colorado, but if the second round proved anything, it’s that the Oilers won’t be put to bed so easily because of their two stars in McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. However, the Avalanche are like the Flames offensively, but on steroids. The Avalanche are neck-and-neck with the Oilers in goals per game this postseason with a mark of 4.30 goals per game, while Edmonton has scored 4.33 per playoff game. The Avalanche’s clip of 2.70 goals against per postseason game isn’t too shabby, either.
Colorado is an offensive juggernaut and Edmonton might have trouble fighting fire with fire, though McDavid's and Draisaitl's otherworldly postseason performances so far will give Nathan MacKinnon’s Avalanche a run for its money.
The real question is: Can Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith halt the shot parade that will come his way in the crease? Smith’s current postseason stats say yes, but there will inevitably be slip-ups from the veteran in the cage. Those errors simply cannot happen against a Colorado team that can pounce on mistakes better than any team in the league.
With home-ice advantage in Colorado’s favor, as well as owning the better overall team, it’s easy to envision the Avalanche taking this series. I think they do it with a few games to spare as well. If you are thinking about betting Colorado to win the Stanley Cup, you won’t get better odds before Game 1. The Avalanche have won eight out of 10 games thus far in the playoffs and I believe it’ll take an Eastern Conference foe to put down the Avalanche, if possible.
The pick: Colorado Avalanche -1.5 games (-125)
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