It’s a battle of the “haves” and “have nots” Friday night in SoCal, as the Colorado Avalanche (34-18-7) visit the Anaheim Ducks (24-29-7). This is just the second meeting between these teams this season, with the Ducks pulling off the surprising 5-2 victory in Denver back in October.
Here is a preview for tonight’s game, along with odds and a free pick.
By the Numbers
We’ll start with the Avalanche, who snapped their three-game losing streak with a win on Wednesday against the Islanders. Prior to their losing streak though, they won five games in a row, four of which came on the road.
Colorado is an elite offensive team, tied for the league-lead in goals with 3.54 per game. They’re also seventh in shots with 32.8 and have the league’s second-highest shooting percentage at 10.8. However, their power play is only converting 19 percent of their chances, 21st in hockey.
Defensively, the Avs are a solid ninth in goals allowed with 2.78 per game. But everything else on D is firmly average, with an 18th-ranked 31.7 shots allowed and the 19th-rated penalty kill of 79.3 percent.
On the other side are the Ducks, who have lost back-to-back games and dropped three of their last four by a combined score of 16-5. Before that stretch, though, they had earned a point in five straight games to open up the month of February.
This season, Anaheim is near the bottom across the board on offense. They are averaging 2.52 goals per game, the third-lowest in the league, on just 30.2 shots. Furthermore, their 8.3 shooting percentage is the fourth-lowest, while their 14.8 success rate on the power play is better than just two other teams.
In terms of defense, the Ducks fare a little better, ranking 21st in goals allowed with 3.15. They also allow the 20th-ranked average of 31.9 shots while sitting 21st with a 78 percent penalty kill rate as well.
Who to Watch
Colorado is carried by their star Nathan MacKinnon, who is by far and away the best player on the ice tonight. MacKinnon has four multi-point efforts in his last five games, bringing him up to 84 points in 59 games.
While 33 of those points are goals, Mikko Rantanen’s latest injury will likely force MacKinnon to take on an even bigger role in the scoring department.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog and Andrei Burakovsky are also names to watch. Landeskog, who admittedly hasn’t come anywhere close to where he was last year in terms to point production, has a goal and two assists in his last two games. He now has 29 points in an injury-shortened 43 games.
Meanwhile, Burakovsky has goals in back-to-back games and three of his last four, as the dynamic winger is up to 20 goals and 25 assists on the year.
For the Ducks, veteran Adam Henrique has continued to have success as a goal scorer. The center followed up a two-score performance against Vancouver with another goal against Calgary, bringing his season total to 21.
For a team that has struggled to score all season, Henrique has become one of their go-to options.
Elsewhere in Anaheim’s roster, Jakob Silfverberg and Troy Terry are interesting names to watch. Silfverberg, who was named as Anaheim’s lone representative on the All-Star team, had a goal and assist against the Flames to give him 18 goals and 16 assists total.
Meanwhile, the young Terry is starting to find his groove, dishing out helpers in two straight games to give him 10 on the year.
With the Avs in action tomorrow, they might turn to backup Pavel Francouz tonight. Francouz is 14-5-3 with a 2.44 GAA and .923 save percentage.
Meanwhile, the Ducks will likely turn to their incumbent starter, John Gibson. Gibson is 17-23-4 with a 2.99 GAA and .904 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
To no real surprise, the Avalanche are favorites tonight on the road, listed at -165. Colorado has been equally good on the road as they have been at home, going 18-9-2, while Anaheim is 12-12-3 at the Honda Center.
The Ducks were able to best the Avs earlier this year in Denver, but I think Colorado gets its revenge. Plain and simple, their offense to too powerful for a team like the Ducks to keep up with. Gibson would need to have the game of his life, which we haven’t seen as often as in previous years.
I’m taking the Avalanche -165 to win this one tonight on the road.