The Colorado Avalanche are currently the No. 3 team in the Central Division and holds down the No. 5 slot in the NHL’s Western Conference. Despite the team’s place in the standings, the Avalanche, who fell in the second round of the 2020-21 NHL Playoffs to the Vegas Golden Knights, are the favourites to win the NHL’s Western Conference in 2021-22.
Colorado, who has played the fewest games in the Western Conference at 31, has 44 points on the season. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights, who have the most games played in the NHL, with 38, have 47 points, which puts them behind the Nashville Predators, who are at the top of the Western Conference with 48 points. Vegas, who are0 23-14-1, have the same number of points as the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have a record of 21-20-5.
2021-22 NHL Western Conference odds
|Vegas Golden Knights||3.98||3.75|
|St Louis Blues||10.00||10.00|
|Los Angeles Kings||38.00||34.00|
|San Jose Sharks||47.00||41.00|
It’s all about the offence for the Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche had a rough start to the 2021-22 NHL season. The club opened the year on a 4-6 run, but they have not lost back-to-back games since early November and are currently riding 9-1 in their past 10 outings. During that 10 game stretch, the Avalanche have outscored their opponents 50-30. It is that scoring prowess that has the team at the top of the NHL’s Western Conference Futures above teams who have a better record than them.
The Avalanche are the only team in the NHL who average more than four goals per game and they top that number by a fair amount with an average of 4.32 goals per game. The second highest scoring team in the West is the Minnesota Wild who average 3.58 goals per game.
If the Avalanche can keep up their scoring pace and maintain the team’s goals against average of 3.26, which is 21st in the league, they will continue to win more than they lose.
Watch the Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights have been hit hard by injuries. Despite Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Nolan Patrick, Robin Lehner and others missing time, the Golden Knights are still in the hunt to once again represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final in 2022. One reason Vegas is first in the Pacific Division and third in the conference is the play of Chandler Stephenson. Stephenson leads the team in scoring with 35 points in 37 games. That number matches his career-high in points which he scored last season in 51 games for the Golden Knights.
The key piece to the Vegas puzzle could be Jack Eichel. Eichel was obtained from the Buffalo Sabres and is currently rehabbing after undergoing artificial disk replacement surgery in his neck. Eichel is a three-time All-Star and scored a career-high 82 points for the Sabres in 2018-19.
Predators sneak into the mix
Before the 2021-22 NHL season began, the Nashville Predators seemed like an afterthought. The team was near the bottom of the picks to win the NHL’s Western Conference despite making the playoffs in the previous season.
Now, 36 games into the season, the Predators are the top team in the Western Conference and are starting to be taken more seriously as contenders. Nashville has played great hockey since the start of December. The team is on a 11-3 run over that span. If the team’s management thinks the Preds can contend this year, watch for some pretty big moves from Nashville as the trade deadline nears.
The Blues excel on home ice
The St. Louis Blues have the best power play in the Western Conference. The Blues are clicking at a 30.1 rate with the man advantage and have an outstanding record of 14-3-2 on home ice. A big problem with the Blues is that they are not a great defensive team and they are an average road team at 7-7-3.
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Our 2021-22 NHL Western Conference futures pick
It’s hard to bet against the Avalanche with the way they are scoring, but the goaltending is a concern for Colorado.
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