Blues, Avalanche Are Basically Tied in Central Division Standings and Title Odds

Nathan MacKinnon during warmup
With the Central Division coming down to the wire, could an injury to Nathan MacKinnon change things between the Blues and Avs? Photo by Lisa Gansky [wikimedia commons].
  • The St Louis Blues currently lead the NHL’s Central Division by two points
  • Colorado has been hot on their heels all season and has a game in hand
  • Based on the odds, who’s the best bet to win the Central Division?

While the St Louis Blues have controlled the Central Division for most of the season, their lead hasn’t always been a comfortable one.

Now, it’s just down to two points over the Colorado Avalanche.

Both have won 41 games this year and both sit top-five in goal differential. If it wasn’t for two Blues OT losses, they’d be tied right now.

So with two of the NHL’s best fighting it out for division supremacy, who’s the best bet to take the Central Division?

2019/20 Central Division Odds

Team Record Points Odds
St. Louis Blues 41-19-10 92 -110
Colorado Avalanche 41-20-8 90 -105
Dallas Stars 37-23-8 82 +2500
Winnipeg Jets 36-28-6 78 +10000
Minnesota Wild 35-27-7 77 +15000
Nashville Predators 34-26-8 76 +15000
Chicago Blackhawks 31-30-8 70 +50000

Odds and standings taken Mar 10th.

As you can tell, it’s become a two-horse race for the Central. It’d take two massive slumps and a big push from Dallas or Winnipeg to unearth any other value.

But, when you look at how the season has played out for the 2020 Central Division odds, it’s not really a surprise.

The Avs were actually favorites until mid-November. That’s when the Blues took over. Since then, their averages have played out like mirror images of each other.

Could Central Division Come Down to the Wire?

Our first inclination to figure out who’s going to come out on top, is to look at the head-to-heads.

Unfortunately, that isn’t much help, because these two wrap up their schedules on April 4, facing off against one another.

Avalanche vs Blues in 2019/20

Avalanche
VS
Blues

2-2-0 Record 2-2-0
15 Goals For 14
14 Goals Against 15
5/16 (31%)
Power Play 5/15 (33%)
10/15 (66%)
Penalty Kill 11/16 (69%)

Even head-to-head, these teams are evenly matched. And while St Louis took the first two and Colorado the next two, it will have been almost three months since they last played when the season finale rolls around.

Strength of Avs, Blues’ Remaining Schedule

When we last looked in on these two, they had the two easiest remaining schedules in the league.

Now that some of the softballs are out of the way, the pendulum has swung back in the Blues’ favor.

Entering Monday night, St. Louis had the eighth-easiest remaining schedule. Their opponents owned a .542 winning percentage. After dropping Monday’s game against Florida, six of their last 12 are at home.

Colorado’s opponents had a .550 winning percentage, with the LA Kings undoubtedly dragging that down. LA’s shocking road win over the Avs however, leaves Colorado with 13 games left, and eight of them at home.

While the result wasn’t what they wanted, the Avs were left holding their breath for a different reason.

How Long Will Avalanche be Missing Nathan MacKinnon?

Even before the loss to the Kings on Monday, the list of injuries the Avalanche had to overcome was ridiculously long.

Now you could be adding a top five player to it.

Immediately after the game, head coach Jared Bednar didn’t know the extent of MacKinnon’s injury. Which isn’t a good sign. That means they’re at least going to take a second look at it.

It’s disappointing for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that MacKinnon is likely to top 100 points for the first time, and 40 goals for the second.

Mounting Injuries Too Much in Central Division Chase

Without knowing anything about MacKinnon’s injury and whether or not it will linger, backing the Blues is the safest play.

MacKinnon’s game is so predicated on speed, that it’s tough to know how even a small lower-body injury will effect him when his team needs him the most.

The Blues lost their own super star earlier in the year when Vladimir Tarasenko went down. And despite everything, they’ve survived atop the Central. Expect them to close out the year on top.

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