- The Avalanche are puck-line favorites in their NHL season opener against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in the nightcap at 10:30 PM (Eastern)
- St. Louis has been challenged to assemble lineup without Alexander Steen, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko
- See odds, spread and total for the game within the story below
In the shadow of positive COVID tests at several training camps and major health protocols, the NHL tentatively rolls out the 2021 season on Wednesday with five games to launch a shortened, 56-game season.
St. Louis and Colorado should be one of the most interesting matchups because it involves a previous Stanley Cup winner playing against a current Cup favorite in the Avalanche, who are -140 favorites in the opener against St. Louis.
Last season, the Blues amassed a Western Conference-high 94 points in 71 games, just ahead of No. 2 Colorado (92 points) before the league was shut down last March by the pandemic. But the Blues never recovered their form and were knocked out of the first round by the Vancouver Canucks, while the Avalanche fell in Game 7 of the Western Division semifinals to the Dallas Stars.
Blues vs Avalanche Odds
|St. Louis Blues||+120||+1.5 (-230)||Ov 5.5 (-125)|
|Colorado Avalanche||-140||-1.5 (+190)||Un 5.5 (+105)|
Odds taken Jan. 12th at FanDuel
Blues Missing Pieces
The Blues have lost two of their top four defensemen from their title run in 2019. Alex Pietrangelo signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, and Jay Bouwmeester collapsed in a game in Anaheim on Feb. 11 due to a cardiac episode. Time will tell if adding Torey Krug and Scott Perunovich will stabilize the defense.
Krug could need more time adjusting to his new defensive partner, Colton Parayko, due to an abbreviated training camp with no preseason games.
Meanwhile, veteran forward Alexander Steen retired in December while talented Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), who played in just 10 games last season, is expected to be sidelined at least another month or two. Prior to last season, he had scored at least 33 goals in five straight seasons.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 11, 2021
The Blues have added skill to their forward units with goal-scoring winger Mike Hoffman. Meanwhile, gritty Ryan O’Reilly returns with intensity that you can’t measure on the scoresheet.
Historically, the Blues and Avalanche have split their head-to-head matchups down the middle, and that trend carried through last season with the clubs splitting their four regular-season games, although the Avs prevailed in the last two, 7-3 and 5-3.
The Avalanche have perhaps the league’s best player in Nathan MacKinnon, who finished fifth in the league scoring race with 93 points. They have an emerging superstar on defense in Cale Makar, who won the Rookie of the Year award. The Avalanche have advanced to the postseason for three straight campaigns.
By acquiring forward Brandon Saad and defenseman Devon Toews in trades, the Avalanche have become perhaps the most complete team in the NHL. They were already well balanced, having ranked fourth in offense and fifth in defense, while the Blues were ranked sixth in defense and 11th offense. The Avalanche also have dependable goalkeepers in Philipp Grubauer, who is expected to start on Wednesday, and Pavel Francouz.
Last week, team captain Gabriel Landeskog was ruled “unfit” to participate in training camp for two straight days, presumably because of COVID-19 protocols. But he returned to the ice on Friday.
Nathan MacKinnon: "Our expectation is to win the Cup. Not just to scrape and claw our way into the playoffs. That's what we're here to do."
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) January 4, 2021
Grubauer and Saad also returned to the ice Friday after being declared “unfit” to play.
In the short-term, with so many roster changes on the Blues and an abbreviated training camp with no preseason games, St. Louis might need time to develop chemistry.
The Avalanche had one of the best home records last season at 18-9-6, and they are a good bet to experience a Colorado high on opening night.
Pick: Colorado Avalanche -1.5 (+190)