Avalanche-Blues series preview: Betting by the numbers

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The Avalanche gave credence to the idea of a top team being able to "flip the switch" come playoff time by sweeping the Predators. In the process, they boosted their market rating to where it was before injuries compromised their stacked lineup.

Nashville was without Vezina-nominated goaltender Juuse Saros, which cost the team at least one game. That said, the Avs drove 57.3% of the even-strength play and dominated on special teams. Can they do the same thing against the Blues?

St. Louis found its way back to past playoff hero Jordan Binnington against the Wild, winning three straight games to close out Minnesota. The Blues won the series in six despite being worse than the Wild at even strength.

Blues 9.09 36
Wild 12.18 46

St. Louis converted seven of its 36 high-danger chances at full strength. That 19.4% conversion rate is considerably above the 13% league average, which explains why the Wild panic-switched goaltenders for Game 6 only to see Cam Talbot flop. Conversely, since Binnington got the call ahead of Game 4, the Blues allowed just one goal on the 21 high-danger chances the Wild manufactured at five-on-five.

Series odds

Blues +190  +290 STL +1.5 (+150)
Avalanche -220 -380 COL -1.5 (-170)

Projected prices

Hopefully, you used our NHL betting guide to evaluate your bets during the regular season and what value truly means in hockey. For the playoffs, we're using even-strength-centric metrics like expected goals and high-danger chance rates, as well as high-danger conversion rates - both for and against - to try to predict who'll play better in the postseason.

True moneylines

The true moneyline takes the implied win probability for each team and converts it to an inverted price for each side before the sportsbook takes its vig on a bet.

The following is the expected price for each side when the games are played in Colorado (Game 1, 2, 5, and 7), and St. Louis (Game 3, 4, and 6).

True ML in Colorado -224 +224
True ML in St. Louis -102 +102
Series Price -278 +278

Price to bet

In the regular season, we'd need at least a 4% edge on an underdog and a 1% edge for the favorite. Using that same threshold, here are the prices to bet for each scenario:

GAME 1/2/5/7 GAME 3/4/6 SERIES
Avalanche -214 +108 -264
Blues +272 +113 +346

With a larger than average home-ice advantage swing of 9%, there should be some opportunities to back the Blues as decent-sized home underdogs in Games 3 and 4. For the series, the numbers suggest triggering a bet on St. Louis at the current price should it extend to +346. However, we'd be putting faith in a considerable upset. This is better left as a warning against laying a big price on the Avalanche.

Derivative series market

The following is the probability for each of the eight possible series results, along with a fair price for an exact result bet.

Series result Probability/Converted odds
Avalanche 4-0 12.2% / +722
Avalanche 4-1 24% / +316
Avalanche 4-2 17.8% / +462
Avalanche 4-3 19.6% / +411
Blues 4-0 2.3% / +4174
Blues 4-1 4.7% / +2025
Blues 4-2 10.6% / +839
Blues 4-3 8.7% / +1044

Colorado winning in five games is the favorite in our numbers. However, the problem is the market more than agrees with that, as exact result odds for that scenario are available around +275. The value bet is to play the Blues to win 4-2 since the consensus price is 10-1.

Best bets

The key to this series lies with what version of Binnington the Blues get between the pipes. Last year, the Avalanche swept St. Louis in the first round after converting 16.6% of the high-danger chances at full strength while clicking at an outrageous 50% on the power play.

After the worst season of his NHL career, Binnington saved the day for the Blues against the Wild. However, it's a different ask for him to stop the Avalanche with the same success.

With nine 20-plus-goal-scorers, the Blues are deeper than they were last season, particularly when they were without David Perron in Round 1. They'll be able to score with the Avalanche, and the over will be worth a look throughout the series.

I don't want to pay -170 for Colorado's series handicap of -1.5 games against a veteran Blues team that can be dangerous. Instead, I'll expect this series to at least get back to St. Louis a second time. At 10-1, a small bet on "Blues in 6" isn't crazy, either.

Pick: Over 5.5 total games (-140)

Game 1: Over 6.5 (-110 or better)

Game 3: Blues moneyline (+105 or better)

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

Avalanche-Blues series preview: Betting by the numbers
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