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The Colorado Avalanche visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night—NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi gives us his prediction.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Carolina Hurricanes Prediction: Expect a Bounce Back from the Avs

After cashing our Capitals vs Oilers over with an exhilarating goal right at the end of regulation, we move to Thursday. The lopsided scheduling of NHL continues to rear its head—after only two games last night, we have 13 to consider for today. The matchup of the day features the top two teams in the league by points percentage, Colorado and Carolina. Here is my pick for what is sure to be a great game.

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Colorado Avalanche vs. Carolina Hurricanes Prediction

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The Avalanche (41-12-5) lead the league with 87 points, but they've slipped a bit over the last week, losing three of their last four. However, those results aren't indicative of their level of play—they were only outplayed in one of the games, which came on the second leg of a road back-to-back. Colorado is still the best team in the league, and their little skid offers a rare opportunity to take them at around even money.

The Hurricanes (39-12-5) hold first place in the Metropolitan Division, and have a six point lead over the second-place Rangers. They aren't in the best form, having lost two of their last four. Beating the Avalanche is a tall task for any team in the league, even a team that is 21-4-2 at home. In the first meeting between these teams this year, Carolina will look to defend their arena and prove to the league that they can go toe to toe with anyone.

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Both teams have goaltenders who are in top form. Frederik Andersen ranks second in the NHL with 28.5 goals saved above expected; he has been excellent as of late. However, he may or may not start, as he missed their last game with an undisclosed injury. On the other side, Darcy Kuemper is expected to go for Colorado. He had a shaky start to the year, but has since improved his play, bringing his goals saved above expected total to an outstanding 13.5 (7th in the NHL). Andersen has a slight edge, but both netminders are more than capable.

The matchup to watch for this game is the one between Colorado's offense and Carolina's defense. Strength will go against strength—the Avs rank second with 3.91 goals per game, while the Canes rank first with just 2.39 goals against per game. However, I think that the Avalanche has an edge here: the Hurricanes have allowed the eighth-most expected goals against per game, despite ranking first in GA/G.

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The reason for such a vast discrepancy between their GA/G and 5v5 xGA/60 is probably a combination of factors including unsustainably great goaltending (Andersen is not the second-best goaltender in the league), a fantastic penalty kill, and poor/unlucky finishing from their opponents. The penalty kill will remain great, but we can expect to see some regression in terms of opposition finishing and goaltending, both of which will hurt Carolina.

I would price this line somewhere in the range of -115 to Colorado, which is why I'll happily take them at even money. If Andersen indeed misses the game, I would expect this line to jump in that direction. Even if he plays, the Avalanche should still be favored. They are the better team, they have an excellent road record, and they are fully healthy. The Canes are not—Tony DeAngelo, who has 40 points in 43 games, will miss the game due to an upper-body injury. His absence will undoubtedly hurt their power play. I'd be willing to bet the Avs down to -110 on the moneyline. Even if you aren't convinced, be sure to tune in—this is a game between two of the league's true cup contenders, and it will be entertaining if not profitable.

Colorado Avalanche vs Carolina Hurricanes Pick

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Article Author


Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.


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