Free NHL Picks: Avalanche at Panthers Odds
by George Monroy - 1/23/2014
The Colorado Avalanche is set to start a three-game road trip against the Florida Panthers on Friday night. The squad is riding a hot streak to start 2014, winning seven of its last 10 matchups and inching closer to the upper echelon of the Western Conference. Colorado still trails the Central Division-leading, and defending champion, Chicago Blackhawks by nine points in the standings, but it still has two more matchups against the team during the second half of the season.
The Florida Panthers are on their first two-game winning streak in over a month and have won three of its last five matchups over the last seven days. The squad is sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings but only trails the eighth seed by seven points and might be only a few wins away from being in serious contention for a playoff spot. Let’s take a closer look at Friday’s matchup with predictions and analysis.
Avalanche at Panthers Betting Story Lines
Colorado laid an egg during its last outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The squad gave up five goals on 31 shot attempts and was overwhelmed by the streaking Maple Leafs early in the game as the matchup was essentially over by the second period. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored twice in the loss and was the only bright spot in an otherwise dreary night for the Avalanche. Starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov was pulled early in the second period after allowing his third goal on only 10 shots.
Prior to Tuesday’s loss, Colorado had been on an impressive four-game winning streak that included three road victories—one of them over the Blackhawks last week. Varlamov has given up seven goals in his last two starts and has played seven straight games in front of the net. Fatigue may be an issue for the starting goaltender and backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to start Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay.
Florida has won five of nine games to start 2014 but is on a two-game road winning streak that includes solid wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. After Friday’s matchup against the Avalanche, Florida will hit the road for another four-game road trip against Detroit, Boston, Toronto and Columbus.
The Panthers are coming off a victory over the Sabres on Tuesday night but did not necessarily play well as the team gave up three goals, 35 shot attempts and seven power-play opportunities to its opponent. However, Florida’s captain, Ed Jovanovski, who has battled multiple injuries over the last two years and was playing in only his ninth game of the season, scored the go-ahead goal that ultimately led to the team’s win.
Avalanche at Panthers NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
Colorado opened as a -116 road moneyline favorite over the +105 underdog Panthers at BetOnline. The total was set at 5.5 goals, with the “under” as a -126 favorite. Colorado is 4-1 in its last five overall matchups and 4-0 during its last four games following a home loss of three or more goals. The team is also 4-1 in its recent games playing on two days of rest. Colorado has gone “over” in four of its last six road games.
Florida is 1-5 over its last six games following a win and 7-22 over its last 29 versus the Central Division. The team has gone “under” in four of its last five games following a win and in 11 of its last 17 Friday games. Head-to-head, the home team has won five of six meetings, while the over is 4-1 in the last five matchups in Florida.
Free NHL Picks: Avalanche at Panthers Predictions
The Avalanche have not lost consecutive games in nearly a month and were playing well before running into the red-hot Maple Leafs, who had won six games in a row. Colorado is currently in the middle of a tight playoff race and hopes to get back into the top of the Western Conference—a position it had been in for most of the season. Colorado is simply the better team in this matchup and should be able to get a solid road victory over a poor Panthers team. Take Colorado on the moneyline.
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