Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes: Round 1, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes NHL Playoffs Round 1
Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes

Once again, the Arizona Coyotes failed to show up with their season on the line as they allowed the Colorado Avalanche to have their way in every facet Wednesday. Colorado scored on three of its four power plays and put seven goals into the Coyotes’ net for the second straight game. Arizona feebly put up 24 shots as it exited the playoffs as it was overwhelmed again by Colorado’s speed and skill.

Colorado Avalanche win 4-1

No team has looked as impressive in the first round of the NHL playoffs as the Colorado Avalanche. They just steamrolled through the Arizona Coyotes with tremendous ease and had every facet of its game working for them by the end of the series. Colorado finished off Arizona with consecutive 7-1 victories in which it combined to go 6-for-11 on the man advantage. The Avalanche had plenty of scoring from its best players and equally good goaltending from Philipp Grubauer to solidify their place as a championship contender.

Game 1

August 12th, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Place

The Colorado Avalanche might be disappointed to not be the top seed in the Western Conference, but this is the one season where seeding doesn’t really matter in the NHL playoffs. The Arizona Coyotes technically pulled an upset in the qualifying round by defeating Nashville as the No. 11 seed, but it’s hard to define it as one because of how tight the race was in the regular season this year. Colorado and Arizona split their two games this season, but both of those games were in November.

The series will be decided by how well Arizona continues to complement the play of Darcy Kuemper in goal. Kuemper stopped 93.3 percent of the shots he faced against the Predators, but the bigger story was the fact 11 different Coyotes scored a goal in the four-game series, the type of depth that wasn’t there during the regular season. Arizona’s chances in this series are proportional to how much it needs to rely on Conor Garland, Taylor Hall and Clayton Keller to score.

On the other side, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar has an interesting decision about who he will play in goal. Philipp Grubauer looked a bit shaky against Vegas on Saturday, making just 22 saves on 26 shots. Meanwhile, Pavel Francouz pitched a shutout in his one game of action in the round robin, and had better statistics during the regular season. Whoever starts in goal for Colorado, the story of this team is its explosive offense that looked every bit as dangerous in the final two games of the round robin as it did during the regular season.

The NHL betting sites in New Jersey list the Avalanche as strong favorites at -250 to win the series, but this is going to be a tough matchup for Colorado. Arizona’s strong goaltending is finally being supported with some scoring, which makes the Coyotes a scary team to play in the postseason. Colorado’s goaltending is its biggest weakness, so it will likely take six or seven games for the Avalanche to advance past the Coyotes. You can bet on this series going beyond 5.5 games at -129, or you can take the series to go the distance for +250.

In the first game, I’d expect Colorado to come out and try to set a tone for the series with its offensive force. The Avalanche will try to impose their will on the Coyotes early and make it a mission to start off the quarterfinals as well as they played in the round robin. Colorado is -107 to win the opener in regulation, and that seems like the right play because Kuemper will only be able to keep Colorado at bay for so long before the Avalanche skate away with the series lead.


Game 2 (Colorado Avalanche lead 1-0)

August 14th, 2:00 p.m., Rogers Place

If not for Darcy Kuemper, the Colorado Avalanche would have skated through the Arizona Coyotes with ease on Wednesday. Colorado won the game 3-0, but it dominated the play for more than 50 minutes before Nazem Kadri broke through with a power-play tally. The Avalanche held a 40-14 advantage in shots and limited the Coyotes to just one attempt on goal in two power plays in the game.

The offense was always the concern for Arizona in the NHL playoffs, but that panic went up another level in the first game against Colorado. The Coyotes had to rely on Kuemper to keep Colorado at bay long enough for them to steal a goal, but it’s hard to do that when they couldn’t sustain any pressure in the Avalanche’s zone. Taylor Hall had only one shot in the game, and no Coyotes player had more than two, which is an unsustainable formula for Arizona moving forward.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder how those three late goals in the third period will help the Avalanche moving forward in this series. The ability to score so quickly against Kuemper is certainly a confidence boost, one that could dramatically impact the rest of this series. The frustration from Kuemper’s big saves vanishes when you can dissect a team as easily as Colorado did Arizona Wednesday, and gives the Avalanche a far different mindset entering Friday.

Colorado is now heavy favorites on the NHL betting sites in New Jersey for Game 2 with odds of -200 on the moneyline and -118 in regulation. Instead, take the Avalanche minus-1 on the spread in regulation at +108 to help boost the payout. You can even add in Colorado scoring more than 3.5 goals for +117 because the Avalanche might just turn on the offense with the confidence it earned from that third-period surge.


Game 3 (Colorado Avalanche lead 2-0)

August 15th, 3:00 p.m., Rogers Place

The Arizona Coyotes responded to their Game 1 loss well, overcoming one-goal deficits in both the first and second periods. But there wasn’t enough time left for them to match Andre Burakovsky’s late third-period tally, so they now trail the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 in their NHL playoffs series.

Aside from the final score, though, it was a good game from Arizona with 32 shots and four power-play attempts. Yet the Coyotes didn’t capitalize on those man advantages and had 19 giveaways in the defeat. There isn’t a margin for error for Arizona in this series, and they’ll need to raise their game quickly Saturday to keep hope alive. Arizona showed that it had a second gear in matching the Avalanche in Game 2, but now it needs to find a third gear to stay away from the brink of elimination.

The NHL betting sites in New Jersey will likely make Colorado the favorite after two wins, but Arizona proved it can play with the Avalanche on Friday. Arizona’s big guns started to show up in a big way Friday, and I expect they’ll take their respective levels to a new high Saturday in Game 3. Taylor Hall, Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel will lead the Coyotes’ offensive charge and Darcy Kuemper stays steady in net to lead Arizona to an important victory.



Game 4

August 17th, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Place

The Arizona Coyotes needed a strong showing in Game 3, and Darcy Kuemper answered the bell in a big way. The goalie made 49 stops to shut down the Colorado Avalanche and propel the Coyotes back into this NHL playoffs series with an important victory. Derek Stepan and Brad Richardson scored twice with the goalie in net, and Taylor Hall and Lawson Crouse added empty netters to seal the deal.

Arizona seems to be in a world of trouble right now, even after coming through with a much-needed victory. The Coyotes attempted just 21 shots on goal in the 58 minutes or so Colorado had a goalie in the net, which is not good enough to beat the Avalanche most nights. They cannot rely on Kuemper stopping 95 or 96 percent of the shots he faces on a nightly basis when he’s facing 45-50 shots every game. Arizona only had three shots on three power plays as well, which is simply wasting an opportunity to take back some momentum on offense.

The message shouldn’t change for Colorado who did many good things in the offensive zone, but struggled to score on Kuemper. The Avalanche had to know Kuemper was going to steal a game – maybe even two in this series – so there’s no reason for them to panic or get frustrated. The gameplan was right, but sometimes you just have to tip your cap to someone who played better. Colorado will need to go back to Philipp Grubauer in goal, however, after Pavel Francouz struggled with his limited workload in Game 3.

At the end of the day, the Coyotes’ formula isn’t sustainable. If Kuemper had only stopped 94 percent of the shots he faced – which is an excellent save percentage – the Coyotes would have lost. Arizona has not jumpstarted its offense and it has required too much defensive effort to keep Colorado off the scoreboard. The NHL betting sites in New Jersey have made the Avalanche the favorite at -195 odds, but this one might get ugly, so take Colorado at -115 in regulation and over 5.5 goals at +120 odds.



Game 5 (Colorado Avalanche lead 3-1)

August 19th, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Place

There just isn’t much to write about the beatdown the Colorado Avalanche laid down on the Arizona Coyotes. Colorado dominated from the opening whistle and just demoralized the Coyotes for 60 minutes to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. If Arizona thought it had any momentum in the series after winning Game 3, it disappeared in a hurry Monday.

Wednesday will be a gut-check moment for Arizona after getting embarrassed in Game 4. The Coyotes showed no pushback to what Colorado was doing until the game was out of hand when Arizona started getting chippy. To only put up 15 shots in an NHL game, let alone a playoff game, is beyond dismal, and there just seems to be no hope with this squad. Even the reliable Darcy Kuemper looked human Monday, and that seemed to deflate the Coyotes even more.

On the other hand, what else is there to say about Colorado right now except that everything is clicking for it right now. Arizona had just 15 shots and Philipp Grubauer was easily up to the task. The Avalanche scored three times on seven power plays and forced the Coyotes into 25 turnovers. The scoring is coming from all over the lineup with the stars and role players all contributing. Colorado just looks like a team poised for an NHL playoffs run.

You know things are bad when your own coach is questioning whether or not you still want to be in the bubble. Arizona looked like a team that lost its desire to play after surrendering three goals in the first period, and Colorado will oblige them of their wish Wednesday. The Coyotes have no offensive identity right now and the brick wall that was Kuemper has come crumbling down through no fault of his own. The Avalanche are once again heavy favorites according to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, so no point in betting on them at -205. Instead, bet the under 5 goals in regulation at +102 odds as Colorado closes out the series.



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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish