After finding themselves in a 3-1 deficit in their series vs. the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche put forth one of their most dominant performances of the playoffs in game five and staved off elimination. The Avalanche have the momentum heading into Game 6, however, that could be derailed by the fact that the team might have to rely on third-string goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, if Pavel Francouz is once again deemed unfit to play.
Hutchinson sports a .905 save percentage in 127 career games, and at 30 years of age, he’ll need some luck, and some run support, to backstop the Avalanche to another win. In game five, the Avalanche led 5-0 after twenty minutes, and Hutchinson was able to work with that. However, don’t expect Ben Bishop, or Anton Khudobin, to allow the Avalanche to score at will the way they did in that opening period. Khudobin has been great in these playoffs, and has been a solid goaltender throughout his career, and Bishop, who is a very good goaltender in his own right, has been injured and was put in a tough spot (coming in cold after missing an extended period of time) against a hungry Avalanche team in game five.
Over the last two games, the Avalanche have started to establish themselves as the more dominant team. In the first three games, the Stars ought to have scored about 55 percent of the goals at 5-on-5 according to Evolving Hockey. That hasn’t been the case since, though. In the last two games, the Avalanche have owned over 60 percent of the expected goals during 5-on-5 play. The Avalanche will have to continue to play with offence in mind if they want to even up the series and force a deciding game seven.
From a betting perspective, the market reacted quickly to the news that Hutchinson would be in goal for the Avalanche. The Avalanche carried a -135 price tag prior to warmups, however, when Hutchinson led the team onto the ice, action came pouring into the moneyline market as bettors rushed to back the Stars, and odds resembled that of a coin flip by the time the puck dropped. Dallas backers got a great number, but the Stars were not able to overcome an awful first period in which the Avalanche scored more goals (five) than the Stars had shots on goal (four).
The Avalanche are carrying a -125 price tag heading into game six, and by my estimation, they should be priced closer to -110. The total is at 6 goals and it’s shaded to the over at -120. It’s tough to see this game going under, especially with Hutchinson in goal. The Avalanche are desperate, and their game plan is going to revolve around scoring goals in bunches, not shutdown hockey that requires them to rely on their goaltender. The Stars and Avs have been combining for roughly 120 shot attempts per game on average, but that number has been trending towards 130. Through five games, the two teams have combined to generate almost 7.5 expected goals per game.