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NHL Monday best bets: Avalanche to start fast vs. Blackhawks

Lawrence Scott / Getty Images Sport / Getty

We begin the week with 10 teams in action. Among that group are two of the bottom-three seeds in the NHL. Let's take a look at the best ways to attack them.

Sharks (+270) @ Oilers (-340)

Things are going from bad to worse for the Sharks. They've been an unmitigated disaster since the trade deadline, winning just once in eight tries.

In that span, they've scored 17 goals and conceded 37, posting a league-worst minus-20 goal differential.

They're severely lacking scoring punch without Timo Meier, and they're getting crushed defensively.

Only two teams have conceded expected goals at a higher rate across all situations. Given the level of goaltending they've gotten from James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen, it's no surprise so many chances against are leading to goal after goal.

I don't think the bleeding is going to stop against the Oilers. They're 6-2-0 since deadline day and have generated expected goals at a top-five clip league-wide.

With Evander Kane healthy again and newcomer Mattias Ekholm making the team more stable defensively, an already strong Oilers side is as deep and talented as its been at any point this season.

The Oilers have averaged nearly 4.70 goals per game over the past couple of weeks, which ranks them second in the NHL.

They're scoring at will, and I don't see any reason why that'll change against a Sharks team in its worst form of the campaign.

Look for the Oilers to make easy work of the Sharks on home soil.

Bet: Oilers -1.5 (-145)

Blackhawks (+380) @ Avalanche (-500)

The Blackhawks have picked up seven points over eight games since the trade deadline but don't let that fool you; they aren't playing well.

Whether you look at shot, chance, or expected goal differentials, they're laboring across the board - just as they have all season.

The reason they've found some success of late: unsustainably high percentages. The Blackhawks are among the league leaders in shooting percentage and save percentage over the past couple of weeks.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know a team with their talent - or lack thereof - isn't going to keep company with the likes of the Bruins and Rangers over the long haul. It makes sense for those teams to shoot the lights out and/or get great goaltending. The same can't be said of the Blackhawks.

I think they're due to hit a wall sooner rather than later, and a road date against the Avalanche is the perfect time for that regression to kick in.

The Avs are 6-2-1 since deadline day and are full value for their record, having controlled better than 57% of the expected goal share.

They're dominating their opponents and generally starting fast, as has been the case all season. Despite all the injuries faced, the Avs are top 10 in first-period goals for and top five in first-period goals against.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are 31st in opening-period goals for and 29th in goals conceded. They struggle mightily at both ends of the ice.

Expect their slow starts to continue at altitude against a significantly better opponent.

Bet: Avalanche first period -0.5 (-120)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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