You could easily make a case that the Colorado Avalanche are the best team in hockey. They’ve won 10 games in a row. They captured a very competitive Western Division. Nathan MacKinnon and Cole Makar are going to win major awards someday, it's just a matter of when. And they looked unbeatable in Game 1 against Vegas on Monday, unleashing a 7-1 thumping on the visitors.
If you need to sell a non-hockey friend on the sport, show them the tape of Colorado’s goals. The speed, the cohesion, the artistry. Suitable for framing. Hockey as it oughta be.
But if we learned anything from "Honeymoon in Vegas," “like unbeatable is not unbeatable.” And let’s make sure we don’t kick the Golden Knights to the curb too quickly. Las Vegas had 82 points in the regular season, just like Colorado. There’s plenty of skill and veteran leadership in that locker room. Vegas will show up in Game 2.
In the regular season, I love betting on a good team that was embarrassed in its last effort. The grind of the regular season creates emotional ebb and flow, but you know an embarrassed team — if it’s a team of requisite skill and maturity — will show up in the next match. You’ll have its attention.
This angle isn’t quite as juicy for me in the playoffs, because it’s not like any hockey team is mailing in games once the stakes are this high. But I think it’s important to remember that while Colorado looked unstoppable Monday, it’s still just one game. Sometimes a team is clicking from the jump and the opponent gets caught in quicksand, its collective head spinning (think about what Germany did to Brazil in the 2014 World Cup; coincidentally, another 7-1 game).
I know most of the public wants to bet favorites. That’s where the fun is. There’s a security of knowing you have presumably the better team. Of course, favorites come with a tax. And I’m always going to look for possible value on the other side of things. Emotional handicapping requires me to back the Knights tonight.
I will consider using the +1.5 crutch and putting Vegas in some parlays at -160. It’s up to you if you want to go that route. The official recommendation is to take Vegas to win outright; it’s currently +165 at Bet MGM.
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