With four wins in their previous 10 NHL fixtures, the Colorado Avalanche aren’t exactly one of ice hockey’s in-form teams right now.
However, their current standing – sixth in the very competitive Western Division – is unfair on Colorado and they remain a mid-priced option in the Stanley Cup outrights at 40/1 with 888Sport. The Avalanche have struggled to inspire confidence in recent times, reaching the playoffs just once in the last seven years. During that timeframe, Colorado went 239-252 but the hosts could be set to end that run.
Meanwhile, Montreal have also had to deal with their fair share of difficulties this year. The Canadiens, led by iconic head coach Claude Julien, finished top of the Atlantic Division in the 2016/17 campaign but are currently sixth; 22 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs in third position.
This has all the makings of a very entertaining contest; both teams will see this as winnable and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see plenty of goals. You won’t want to miss it…
Avalanche Better Than Some Believe
A 33/1 chance for the Stanley Cup with Bet365, Colorado are still in the playoff hunt despite their less than impressive divisional standing. Just nine points separates the Winnipeg Jets, currently second in the table, and Colorado and that gives hope to Avalanche fans. It is far from over yet…
Colorado have scored 174 goals so far this year, an impressive return considering their woes in recent seasons. A huge road win against the Buffalo Sabres last time out could give the hosts confidence to push on and enjoy a successful second half of the campaign.
Incredibly, the Avalanche won their previous nine games on home ice – Pepsi Center has been something of a fortress in 2018. Can they make it ten on the spin here? You wouldn’t bet against them on current form.
KEY MAN: Nathan MacKinnon. As expected, the first overall pick from the 2013 NHL Draft has come good this year. Notching 61 points in just 49 appearances, MacKinnon has been central to Colorado’s success so far this season and he will continue to play an influential role as the Avalanche look to compete for a playoff spot.
MacKinnon has recorded four points in his last five outings but has missed time recently after suffering a shoulder injury. In his absence, Colorado have scored just four goals in five matches and Avalanche fans will be expecting big things if he returns for this contest.
Canadiens In Need Of A Minor Miracle
Montreal have failed to inspire confidence away from Bell Center this year and their road form has been a key reason for their lack of consistency towards the top of the division. A win here could give the Canadiens a lift but closing the gap is now almost impossible.
To put their poor run of form into perspective, Montreal would be sat at the bottom of both the Metropolitan Division and the Central Division. Julien’s side are now well out at 200/1 to go on and win the Stanley Cup – it could be a playoff-less year for the Canadian franchise.
Even their points differential is unacceptable. With 172 goals conceded, Montreal have one of the worst defensive records in the NHL and heads will fly at the end of the year. It could be a very busy offseason at Bell Center…
KEY MAN: Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty leads the team with 33 points – a statistic that sums up Montreal’s struggles in 2017/18. Once regarded as a top talent in the National Hockey League, Pacioretty’s own form has took a severe hit.
With four game-winning goals, he is still the man for clutch moments and Montreal fans will be expecting a big performance. If this one goes to overtime, you wouldn’t bet against him making a positive impact late on.
MacKinnon is a leading contender for the NHL Most Valuable Player award this year and his return would give Colorado a huge boost. Even without their main man, the Avalanche may have enough in the tank to win this one. It could be close but Montreal could fall short yet again…
AVALANCHE 3-1 CANADIENS