My picks have been following a very similar pattern over the last couple of weeks.
I have had two four-pick win streaks in that time, both of which were snapped by back-to-back losses, which is where I sit entering this Monday evening after taking another loss with Friday’s pick between the Leafs and Panthers, a game Toronto lost by a 3-1 count.
I’m still very much in positive territory for the season, however, so let’s get another win streak started with tonight’s pick featuring the Predators and Avalanche from the Pepsi Center in Denver.
A couple of Central Division contenders collide tonight in Colorado as the Avalanche play host to the Nashville Predators.
While the Avalanche have scuffled of late from a wide-lens point of view, the reality is they enter this one having one two of their last three and have scored at least six goals in those two wins, most recently burying the visiting Los Angeles Kings by a 7-1 count on Saturday afternoon.
On the Predators side, they come in rather cold after dropping each of their last two games by a combined 9-3 score. Going a little further back, the Predators have actually dropped four of their last five, going on another uncharacteristic run that resembles the way they entered the New Year.
When we go back to the start of the season, the Predators were absolutely dominant on the road. Nashville began the season a cool 8-0-0 on the road, a number that was incredibly impressive, but also one that was due for a little regression, and boy have we seen that since.
Since that perfect eight-game stretch on the road to kick off the year, the Preds have gone 4-9-4 over their last 17 road contests. The Preds are averaging a very solid 3.16 goals per game on the road this season, but are still allowing 3.00 per game defensively, barely into positive territory in terms of average goal differential away from home.
Looking at the Avs, they haven’t been as dominant at home as they were last season, but the background numbers remain strong at the Pepsi Center. They are a decent 10-6-5 on home ice this season, meaning they have technically lost more games at home than they have won.
That said, Colorado ranks eighth in home offense with 3.43 goals per game and also rank 14th with 2.76 goals against per game at home. That ranking may not seem all that impressive, but keep in mind that equals a +0.67 average goal differential at home compared to Nashville’s +0.16 mark on the road.
One area I want to speak to as well is special teams on the behalf of Colorado. A big reason why they went on that extended losing stretch was due to their inefficiency on the penalty kill. Prior to winning two of their last three, the Avs produced a ghastly 59.1% mark on the penalty kill over their previous seven games.
However, over their last four games, the Avs have killed 11 of their last 12 penalties, good for a 91.7% mark on the PK.
Their power play never really cooled substantially during their losing stretch, but I like that they have gone 3 for 9 (33.3%) over their last two games after burying two goals in six opportunities in that thumping of the Kings on Saturday afternoon.
Continuing on the special teams front, the Preds enter this one rather cold in both areas. On the power play, they have gone 0 for 20 over their last five games. On the penalty kill, they have produced a 63.2% mark over their last six games. Again, this isn’t something we are used to seeing from this club, but it is very much the reality at this point.
After destroying the Kings on Saturday, the Avalanche are feeling the best they have felt since prior to the calendar flipping to 2018. The Preds are coming off a demoralizing home loss to the lowly Panthers on Saturday, so they can’t be feeling all that confident heading into this matchup tonight.
Give me the Avalanche on the moneyline in a rematch of last year’s first-round series, a series that was won 4-2 by the Preds.