Free Picks: Blues vs. Avalanche, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1
Blues and Avalanche, Round 1: Avalanche won series, 4-0

Series Results: Avalanche won, 4-0

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Sunday in Game 4 to sweep the Blues in four straight games in their first-round Stanley Cup series.

The Colorado Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in four straight games to win their first-round series on Sunday. Colorado will play the winner of the series between Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild. Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves in Game 4 for Colorado, who outscored St. Louis 20-7 in the four games. Colorado’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen combined for 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in the four games. St. Louis forward David Perron, the club’s top point-getter in the regular season, missed the entire series in Covid-19 protocol.

Game 1

May 17, 10:00 p.m., Ball Arena

The Blues and Avalanche are meeting in the postseason for the first time since the 2001 Western Conference Final. Colorado won in five games on the way to the Stanley Cup title. The Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019.

The NHL odds heavily favor Colorado and that’s why they are so expensive on the Money Line (-270), costing almost three times your potential payout (bet $270 to win $100). But it is a safe bet. The Avs won five of their eight meetings this season.

For my BetPicks free picks that have more risk, I would consider taking  St. Louis (+205) on the Money Line with 10Bet  for a big payout, but go lightly here because the Blues are 1-6 in their last seven games in Colorado. But St. Louis won the last two head-to-head clashes.

In my Stanley Cup playoff predictions,  I think Colorado wins 4-2, so taking the Avalanche (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+104) with 10Bet looks like the best value. I don’t think St. Louis (+1.5) will cover (-131). But this is often the best time to take an underdog because there are always surprises in the opening round.

The total goals (5.5) is pretty much a tossup. The Over (-112) is the way to go. But the Under (-113) with 10Bet has plenty of merit considering the Under is 3-1 in their last four head-to-head games in Colorado.

The Avalanche have nine players who scored at least 30 points, led by Mikko Rantanen, who scored 66 (30 goals, 36 assists) in 52 games, and center Nathan MacKinnon, who scored 65 (20 goals, 45 assists) in 48 games.

But MacKinnon missed the final two regular-season games with an undisclosed injury. MacKinnon also missed games May 7 and 8 against the Los Angeles Kings with a lower-body injury, but Colorado coach Jared Bednar said the injuries are not related.

The biggest concern with St. Louis is that forward Vladimir Tarasenko missed the final six regular-season games and eight of the last nine with a lower-body injury. In addition, Blues defenseman Vince Dunn missed the last 11 games with an upper-body injury. Forward David Perron (19 goals) is on the Covid protocol list.

St. Louis is powered by captain Ryan O’Reilly, who led the Blues in goals with 24.

In goal, the Avs have Philipp Grubauer, who was 30-9-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and seven shutouts in 40 games (39 starts). St. Louis features Jordan Binnington. In 42 games this season (41 starts), he was 18-14-8 with a 2.65 GAA and .910 save percentage.


Game 2 (Avalanche leads 1-0)

May 19, 10:30 p.m., Ball Arena

Can the Blues bounce back in Game 2?

The Coloroado Avalanche pulled away from the St. Louis Blues in the third period on Monday with MacKinnon sealing the win with an empty-net goal.

The top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and MacKinnon proved to be too much for the Blues to handle. They were good offensively as well as defensively. That line combined for eight points (three goals, five assists).

Ryan O’Reilly put some motivation into the Avalanche with his comments last week that the Blues were going to win the series. O’Reilly was on the ice for all three goals in the third period and took the tripping penalty that led to Colorado’s goal in the first period.

It looks as if the Blues can’t match Colorado’s speed, so that’s going to be a trend to watch as the series moves along. If not for St. Louis goaltender Jordan Biddington, the score would have been a lot worse. The Blues goalie made 46 saves as they were outshot 50-23.

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is going to have to be better in Game 2. In the opener, he hit the post and was a minus-2 in 16:21 of ice time since his return from missing the final six regular-season games with a lower-body injury.

The Blues played without David Perron, who is out because of the NHL’s Covid protocol. Blues defenseman Vince Dunn skated on Monday, but missed his 12th straight game with an upper-body injury.

The best sports bet today is taking Colorado on the Money Line. Colorado is 6-0 Straight Up in their last six games. But it’s very expensive (-350) with 10Bet, costing you more than three times your potential payout (bet $350 to win $100).

The riskiest bet, but the one that has the biggest return is taking St. Louis on the Money Line (+260) with 10 Bet (bet $100 to win $260). Go lightly here because the implied odds suggest the Blues have only a 27% chance of pulling the upset in Game 2.

In total goals, I would lean toward the Under (5.5) with 10Bet (-118). I think St. Louis comes back stronger in Game 2 and keeps the game close. The total has gone Under in five of Colorado’s last seven games.

For my Free Picks, I predict Colorado wins 4-1.

The NHL Stanley Cup odds favor Colorado (-1.5) on the Puck Line (-128) with 10Bet. I think that’s a good bet to take and a safe bet as well.

Taking St. Louis (+1.5) on the Puck Line (+101) is risky, but it’s safer than taking St. Louis Straight Up.



Game 3 (Colorado leads series 2-0)

May 21, 9:30 p.m., Enterprise Center

Can the Blues stop Nathan MacKinnon?

The Avalanche now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 with Game 3 in St. Louis on Friday. If the Blues can’t figure out a way to stop MacKinnon this will be a short series. MacKinnon has scored seven points (five goals, two assists) in the first two games of this series.

Philipp Grubauer is steady in the Colorado net. He made 32 saves, while Jordan Biddington made 28 saves for the Blues. If not for Biddington, the score would have been worse.

The Blues are hurting. Defenseman Justin Faulk left the game after Nazem Kadri was assessed a match penalty for a hit to the head. Kadri could be suspended for several games. The Blues also lost defenseman Robert Bortuzzo in the second period after a hit by Avalanche forward Tyson Jost.

In addition, Blues defenseman Vince Dunn missed his 13th straight game. He is recovering from an upper-body injury. The Blues had to finish the game with only four healthy defensemen.

For my BetPicks, I am considering the Puck Line, the Money Line and total goals for Game 3 on Friday.

For my Picks and Predictions, I am calling for the Avalanche to win 4-2. So I would avoid taking St. Louis (+1.5) Against The Spread in this game. The Blues were 11-17 ATS during the regular season at home.

The play here is Colorado on the Puck Line (-1.5) with 10Bet (+112). The implied odds suggest a 47% chance of Colorado covering, but I think the actual odds are higher, even though Colorado was only 9-19 ATS on the road this season.

On the Money Line, the safest bet is with Colorado (-235) with 10Bet, and it’s not too expensive considering how good the Avs have been (bet $235 to win $100). Colorado is 7-0 SU in its last seven games.

The NHL odds favor Colorado, but if you believe the Blues will be better at home and they’re too good to be swept, a risky bet is taking the Blues with the Money Line (+185). But I’m not prepared to make that bet.

The total goals (5.5) is a coin flip, but I think Colorado is a scoring machine, so I’m taking the Over (-112), although the Under is priced at the same (-112) odds. The total has gone Under in four of Colorado’s last five games on the road.



Game 4 (Colorado leads series 3-0)

May 23, 05:00 p.m., Enterprise Center

Avalanche on verge on sweep

The Avalanche are just too deep for St. Louis to contend with. Colorado relied on the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen in the first two games of the series. But what makes them more dangerous is they have turned to their depth scoring.

Ryan Graves had a goal and two assists while Alex Newhook scored his first NHL goal on Friday. Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost scored the other Colorado goals.

They didn’t need Nazem Kadri, who didn’t play after the league announced during the first intermission that Kadri has received an eight-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Kadri will miss the rest of this series and the start of the second round should the Avalanche advance. He was replaced in the lineup by Carl Soderberg, who had an assist in 8:59 of ice time.

Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves (.969 save percentage) for the Avalanche while Jordan Binnington made 21 saves (.840 save percentage) for St. Louis. Binnington will have to step up his game in order to give his team the chance to win even one playoff game.

The Blues outhit Colorado 46-20. But it seems not even out-hitting Colorado is enough to slow them down.

Ryan O’Reilly has been a disappointment in this series. He has only one assist in three games. In all, the Blues have scored only five goals in three games. I don’t see them coming back at all.

For my BetPicks, I am looking at Puck Line, the Money Line and the Over/Under markets.

When I’m making my Picks and predictions, I often like to project a final score. I like Colorado 4-2 on Game 4 on Sunday.

The NHL game odds favor Colorado (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+129) with 10Bet. If you think the Avs can win by at least two goals, you will win $129 on a $100 bet.

I like those odds. But a safer bet is taking St. Louis (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-164) with the implied odds suggesting a 62% chance of the Blues either winning or losing by less than two goals.

On the Money Line, I like Colorado Straight Up (-200) with 10Bet. If you think St. Louis can win a game in this series, maybe now is your chance to play the underdog (+160) for a bigger risk and bigger reward with 10Bet ($100 bet wins $160).

The Over/Under (6.0) is a coin flip. Both are listed at -112 with 10Bet.





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I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.