The last time the Avalanche won the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy for best regular season record, no one had imagined sending U.S troops to Afghanistan for 20 years and The Fast and the Furious was so new that no one thought to use a number on the end of the title of the box office smash.
The Avs’ Stanley Cup title in 2001, won in a thrilling Game 7 over the New Jersey Devils, also marks the last time the franchise has hoisted the Cup. Can they do it again? The Colorado online sportsbooks think so, making them the betting line favorite as the NHL’s postseason gets underway this weekend. Colorado gets a three-day layoff before starting Monday night against the St. Louis Blues, who finished as the West Division’s 4-seed.
The Avs earned home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs by virtue of Thursday night’s 5-1 thumping of the Los Angeles Kings, giving them a 39-13-4 record and 82 points in the truncated regular season. The division rival Vegas Golden Knights had just as many points, but a tie-breaker based on regulation wins gave Colorado the edge.
That’s no small advantage for the playoffs, as coach Jared Bednar’s team finished 16-0-1 in its last 17 games at Ball Arena and 22-4-2 overall at home. The Avs edged the Golden Knights 2-1 on Monday night in a pivotal victory.
Early odds favor Avs and more are coming
Led by Conn Smythe Trophy favorite Nathan MacKinnon (+800 at DraftKings, +1000 at Circa), the Avalanche are heavy favorites to beat the Blues both Monday and in the first-round series overall, although many of Colorado’s online sportsbook sites had yet to post odds on the options as of Friday morning. MacKinnon missed the last two games of the regular season but is expected back Monday.
Colorado beat St. Louis in the season series 5-3 and enters the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. DraftKings has made the Avs -335 favorites to win the best-of-seven matchup, while the Blues can be bet at +255.
For the opening game, FanDuel has made Colorado a -200 favorite. It posted 5.5 as the over/under, with an inflated vig of -115 for those betting the over.
Colorado-Vegas series might be best of all
The Avs’ victory over the Golden Knights on Monday proved the difference in becoming the postseason’s top seed throughout, and it evened the season series between the two teams at 4-4. One could easily imagine a second-round matchup of the two that feels like a Stanley Cup championship series itself, considering both had regular season records surpassing anyone else in the NHL.
With its home ice advantage, the sportsbooks are giving Colorado the nod as the top favorite to hoist the Cup in June, but with Vegas right behind. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM all list Colorado at +450 to win its third NHL title, and all have Vegas with the second-shortest odds at +550.
Circa is different from competitors in letting bettors place wagers both ways on a team’s chances: It offers +350 for a bet on Colorado winning the Cup and -490 for the field. So, yes, while the Avs are deemed more likely to win the title than anyone else, they are still an underdog to do so.
Still, with an offense led by MacKinnon (20 goals, 45 assists) and Mikko Rantanen (30 goals, 36 assists), and with goaltender Philipp Grubauer tied for the league lead in shutouts with seven, this is a team that could spend two more months playing as fast and furious as anyone in the league — ultimately rewarding both fans who have waited two decades and the new bettors backing them.