- The Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche will contest the Western Conference Finals in the National Hockey League (NHL).
- The winner of the Oilers vs. Avs series will face the Eastern Conference champion in the Stanley Cup Finals.
- The series begins on Tuesday, May 31 at Denver’s Ball Arena.
The National Hockey League (NHL) couldn’t have scripted a better Western Conference Final series. The Edmonton Oilers led by superstar Connor McDavid play in their first conference finals since 2006. They won the last of their five franchise Stanley Cups in 1990–the only Cup they’ve won without Wayne Gretzky. The Colorado Avalanche are led by superstar Nathan MacKinnon and are playing in their first conference finals since 2002. They’ve brought the Stanley Cup to Denver on two occasions–1996 and 2001. As if this matchup needed anything to make it more compelling, it involves a team at the epicenter of the US sports betting ecosystem.
The statistical matchup is downright insane. ESPN compiled a bunch of interesting stats to underscore the significance of Avs v. Oilers. For starters, there’s every reason to expect a flurry of goals–and not just because of the offensive skills of MacKinnon and McDavid. The Oilers lead the NHL in goals per game during the playoffs (4.33 goals per game) and the Avalanche are second (4.30 goals per game). This will be the first conference finals since 1989 involving teams scoring more than 4 goals per game in the playoffs (that would have been the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks). Edmonton has scored 52 goals during the postseason–the most by any team through 12 games since the 1994 Stanley Cup winning New York Rangers.
Connor McDavid was already the best hockey player in the world, but he’s somehow found a way to raise his game during the playoffs. ‘McJesus’ and teammate Leon Draisaitl have 26 points so far in the postseason. The only player to have more points through 12 playoff games? Try #99 aka Wayne Gretzky (34 in 1983 and 32 in 1985). McDavid has put up a combined 149 points in the 2021-2022 regular season and playoffs. That’s the most by anyone heading into the conference finals since 1995-1996 when a couple of legit legends ruled the game: Mario Lemieux (181) and Jaromir Jagr (167).
And then there’s this:
McDavid (549), Draisaitl (479) and MacKinnon (442) rank 1-2-3 in points accrued during the past five seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first conference finals featuring the top three points leaders over the trailing five seasons since the 1974 Stanley Cup semifinals. (The Bruins had all three players: Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr and Johnny Bucyk.)
Colorado has home ice advantage–significant as they had one of the best home ice records in the NHL during the regular season. They went 32-5-4 at Ball Arena but are just 3-2 so far in the playoffs. The Avs were 24-14-3 away from home during the regular season. Edmonton was 28-12-1 at Rogers Place during the regular season and were a reasonable 21-15-5 on the road. The Oilers are 4-2 at home during the playoffs.
The Oilers and Avs have been two of the most profitable teams for bettors this season. Colorado is a combined 64-28 (playoffs and regular season) for a profit of +8.2 units. Edmonton is 57-37 for a profit of +8.0 units. That makes them the fifth and sixth most profitable betting teams in the league behind the New York Rangers (+17.9 units pending the outcome of Game 7 of their series with Carolina), the Florida Panthers (+11.0 units), the Los Angeles Kings (+10.3 units) and the St. Louis Blues (9.8 units).