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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
28-19-4 (4th in Central Division)
28-20-5 (3rd in Central Division)
Mikko Rantanen (63)
Kirill Kaprizov (63)
Mikko Rantanen (34)
Kirill Kaprizov (30)
Nathan MacKinnon (42)
Kirill Kaprizov (33)
Devon Toews (15)
Jared Spurgeon (16)
Nathan MacKinnon (5.2)
Shots (Per Game)
Kirill Kaprizov (3.76)
The Colorado Avalanche will travel north to St. Paul to face the Minnesota Wild for the second time this season. These teams faced each other early in the year, and the Avalanche won 6-3. The Avalanche were only up 3-2 after the second period but scored three third period goals.
The Avalanche are one point out of the Wild Card and one point out of third place in the Central Division. Their opponents, the Wild, are only one point ahead, so they also need a win quite badly. These teams are in nearly the same position, so this game is crucial to both of them.
The Avalanche have some excellent players but an average offense. They average just above three goals per game and were shut out two games ago. However, they are much better on the defensive end. Colorado allows less than 2.8 goals per game and has a few quality defensemen.
The Avalanche have three players (Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen) with 45 or more points. All three players are talented passers and can score at a high level.
Alexander Georgiev has received the majority of Colorado’s starts this season. He is not elite but is competent. His .918 save percentage is the ninth-highest in the league, and his 21 wins are the eighth-most in the NHL.
The Wild are worse on paper than the Avalanche. They average a little less than three goals per game and only scored one goal in their previous game. Defensively, they are around the same level as the Avalanche, but their goaltending is a little worse.
The Wild are led by Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, and Joel Eriksson Ek. Kaprizov is undoubtedly the best player in this group, but Zuccarello and Eriksson Ek are also quite talented.
Marc-Andre Fleury will likely get the start for the Wild. His play has not been excellent this year, but he does provide a veteran presence on the ice.
The Avalanche are playing this game on the road and have a game the night before, so I cannot pick them to win. Bet on Minnesota.
The Avalanche are the underdogs but will win if they draw penalties and score first.
The Avalanche do not have a great offense but have a solid power-play unit. Colorado converts 23.8% of their power plays (tenth-best in the NHL), and over 26% of their goals have come with a man advantage. I only say all this to illustrate why the Avalanche must draw penalties and get this unit on the ice. If they do, they will have a chance to win.
The Avalanche will not be well-rested heading into this game after facing the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before. Whether they win or lose that game, they will be tired heading into this matchup. However, they can offset that exhaustion with some strong early play. If they play aggressively and score first, they will likely win.
The Wild are the favorites but will only emerge victorious if they limit the Avalanche’s shots and set up Kirill Kaprizov.
The Wild will have the upper hand heading into this game. Not only will they have home-ice advantage, but Minnesota is also coming off a day of rest (unlike the Avalanche). They need to take advantage of this and play energetic defense. If they do, they will be able to limit the Avalanche’s shots and, therefore, limit their scoring.
Kirill Kaprizov is the lifeblood of the Wild offense. The winger leads the team in goals (30), assists (33), and points (63). Kaprizov is also coming off a one-goal against the Florida Panthers. However, he can only be successful if his teammates help him. They need to set him up with scoring opportunities or get open when he has the puck so that he can set them up with opportunities.
This was the obvious choice. Mikko Rantanen is the most talented offensive player on the Avalanche. This award might have gone to Valeri Nichushkin earlier in the season, but his play has been slow lately, and he has missed many games this season.
Rantanen comes into this game with 63 points (34 goals, 29 assists). He is also coming off a two-assist game in his last time out. He needs to continue performing at a high level in this matchup. If he does, the Avalanche will be in good shape.
I could have picked Kirill Kaprizov, but I already spoke about him above. Instead, I will pick Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello is not as much of a goal-scorer as Kaprizov but is a significant threat with the puck in his hands. The winger needs to step up when Kaprizov is off the ice and look for his shots.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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