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Month May Put Avs ‘Over’

Posted by Webster Washington on 1/3/2016 5:49:50 AM

Under the heading of NHL longshot teams, the Colorado Avalanche come to mind, and a testy month ahead should reveal their true worth. One thing looks certain, they’ll be in some high-scoring games in the next two weeks.

The Avs are banging around the rugged Central Division like a pinball, with a record right at .500. They streaked through December, winning five straight at one point and finishing the month 9-5. But on the heels of the win streak came a slump of three losses in four games. Going into Saturday’s home outing against Calgary, the Avalanche had 39 points, way down the Central ladder, and four points behind Nashville for the last of the Western Conference wild card spots.

Home Stand to Watch

The month ahead might well write the book on Colorado’s season. Saturday’s game started a January that has the Avs at home six of the first seven games, with the Kings, Blues, Blackhawks and Tampa Bay on the schedule. Success during that run would keep the Avalanche in the playoff hunt, but more than that, would be a measuring stick for the rest of the year.

Can Colorado have that success? Well, we know they can score. The Avalanche rank fifth in the league in goals per game (2.9), and ninth in power play percentage. The fact that they rank 21st in goals allowed (2.8) should make them a good over team in the over/under betting odds. Though the oddsmakers have caught up to their hijinks – they’re 18-18 in the o/u category - their home stands are still hitting over.

Much of the Avalanche success revolves around center Nathan MacKinnon, who leads the team in points, with 33, despite going 14 straight games without a goal. Center Matt Duchene leads the team in goals with 17, and cheers are going out for veteran winger Jarome Iginla who is going for his 600th career goal. Their trouble is in goal, where their stingiest keeper, Reto Berra (2.41 GAA), is sidelined with an ankle injury. That leaves Semyon Varlamov (2.63) and little-used Calvin Pickard (3.93) to do the job.

Betting Odds: Over

January will tell the story for the Avalanche playoff hopes, but this upcoming road stand looks good for Colorado games to hit the over. They are 12-5 on over/under in home games, and 9-4 over in home games when the total is 5.5. With Berra out and his other two goalmates not too effective, look for the scoreboard to light up at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

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