The Colorado Avalanche have been decimated by injuries lately which has largely undone what was a torrid start to the season. To their credit, they’ve continued to scrap but going 5-5-0 in their last 10 games has not allowed them to do much more than just ‘tread water’ and try to maintain some positioning in the standings until they get some of their injured players back. They’ve lost their last two games and face a tough challenge on Wednesday night as the Edmonton Oilers come to town.
Edmonton has been excellent so far this season and it looks like Connor McDavid is finally getting a supporting cast around him that is worthy of his excellence. The Oilers are 16-7-3 on the year for 35 points which gives them the top spot on the Western Conference table and the second best point total in the league. What has been most impressive about Edmonton’s performance this year under new head coach Dave Tippett is how solid they’ve been in every phase of the game. Their defense has improved significantly. The Oilers finished last season tied for #24 in goals allowed per game giving up 3.30 per contest. So far this year, they’ve got the #8 team defense giving up just 2.77 goals per game. They can still score goals and rank just out side of the top ten in that metric. They’ve been great on special teams so far with the second best power play and penalty kill in the NHL. Edmonton’s consistency has also allowed them to avoid any extended losing streak–the Oilers have not lost more than 2 games in a row all season.
The Oilers could be without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins here (he’s listed as ‘questionable’ with an injured hand) but that’s nothing compared to the Avs’ injury situation. They’re still without Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen who along with Nathan MacKinnon comprise arguably the best top line in the NHL. MacKinnon has tried to pick up the slack and is playing well. Forwards Colin Wilson and Matt Calvert are also out indefinitely and defenseman Eric Johnson is listed as ‘questionable’ here.
For whatever reason, the public has yet to catch on to the massive improvement in the Oilers from top to bottom. You think that they’d be able to pick up on this given Edmonton’s lofty position in the standings but that hasn’t been the case and at least part of the reason why the Oilers have been the second most profitable team in hockey to date (+7.3 units) behind the New York Islanders. That gives us plenty of opportunities to profit with Edmonton until the public gets on board. They’re a strong play as a road underdog and we’ll also look for this game to go ‘Over’ the total. Oilers have gone ‘Over’ in 6 of their last 8 and the last three head to head in the series have seen total goals of 8,8,10 including a 6-2 Oilers win earlier this year.