Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference finals betting preview
The conference finals are set on both sides of the bracket. Lets’ look at things from a betting perspective. All recommended bets are tracked as one unit (bet to win one unit on favorite and risk one unit on underdog) unless stated otherwise. If you want, you can use the model projection to bet in proportion to its perceived edge.
All game lines via DraftKings Sportsbook. All stats courtesy of Evolving Hockey. Follow me on Twitter.
Edmonton Oilers (+ 200) at Colorado Avalanche (-250)
Dating back to the regular season, Edmonton is 44-5 when they score four or more goals, but their record is 13-32 when they score three or fewer goals, and that’s a big reason why this is not a good matchup for them. Colorado and Darcy Kuemper have only allowed more than three goals once in nine playoff games and they held the Blues (a pretty good offensive team) to just 2.5 goals per game. Edmonton has scored 4.3 goals per 60 minutes in the playoffs, which is slightly better than Colorado, but it’s going to be hard to score more than three goals versus the Avalanche. On that same note, the Avalanche have had an easy road in terms of the goaltenders that they have faced, and Mike Smith has been good in the playoffs, so maybe they’ll have a tougher time scoring as well, but I wouldn’t bet on Smith to do what he did in the first two rounds.
If there’s one thing that the Oilers have going for them, though, it’s secondary scoring. They’ve gotten big contributions from players like Evander Kane (leads the playoffs in goals) and Zach Hyman (he has as many goals as Nathan MacKinnon). They aren’t a one-man team, or even a two-man team, and if McDavid and his partner, Leon Draisaitl, continue to get support from the rest of the lineup, the Oilers will in a better position to pull off the upset. Colorado is a dominant team, though, and while there wasn’t much separating them and the Flames in the regular season, it’s clear that they weren’t playing up to their potential. Now they are, and the Oilers aren’t going to be able to box them out the way they did Calgary and Los Angeles. The Oilers are going to have to go toe-to-toe with the Avalanche and judging by the massive difference in shot attempt percentage, we should expect to see the Avalanche drive play.
The Oilers were able, for the most part, to keep the Kings and Flames best players at bay with good team defense and a strong forecheck, but Calgary and Los Angeles didn’t have any players that could break a game open with a single rush, and the Avalanche have several players that fit that mold. The Oilers haven’t had to deal with the likes of MacKinnon and Cale Makar in the playoffs, and Colorado’s forwards are going to be a lot tougher to keep out of the slot. Colorado’s shot share through the first two rounds sits at around 60 percent, while the Oilers share of the shot attempts was just 48 percent. The Avalanche will need players like Mikko Rantanen, who has just one goal in the playoffs, to step up, but Smith is going to have his work cut out for him. McDavid (and Draisaitl) have been playing out of their minds, but they’re going to need to crank it up a notch and I’m not sure they can do anymore. My model estimates that Colorado will win the series close to 73 percent of the time, and I could justify making a small wager on them, but the edge is minimal, and I’d rather look for other betting opportunities.