- The Blues (-200) are the favorites in the Central after putting together the best record (30-11-8) in the West
- The Avalanche (+300) sit only six points back of St. Louis despite missing Mikko Rantanen for 16 games earlier in the season
- Nathan MacKinnon was recently voted by his peers as the second-best player in the NHL
The St. Louis Blues will be well represented this weekend as the city hosts its first NHL All-Star Game in more than three decades, comprising over a third of the Central’s roster with Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron and Jordan Binnington all set to perform in front of the home crowd, in addition to coach Craig Berube.
Currently pacing the Western Conference, the defending Cup champs have jumped to -200 to win their division from +200 two months ago, but the young Avalanche only sit six points back. Let’s review the latest odds at BetOnline and determine whether Colorado could be a strong bet at +300.
NHL CENTRAL DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Nov. 5, 2019|
|St. Louis Blues||-200||↑||+200|
ST. LOUIS BLUES
St. Louis had its six-game point streak upended by the Avalanche on Saturday in the final game before the team’s bye week (January 19-26), giving them a very respectable 30-11-8 record at the break.
While first-time All-Stars like Binnington and Perron certainly won’t complain about playing this weekend, you have to wonder if the four Blues stars would have been better off with longer vacations after playing into mid-June last year.
Justin Bieber ups the ante on Blues goalie Jordan Binnington's shootout challenge | CBC Sports https://t.co/6oSiTm6i4C
— Bradbury (@timothybgarrett) January 18, 2020
Craig Berube’s workmanlike squad continues to win playing a hard-nosed team game. Perron is the club’s leading scorer with 49 points (good for just 18th in the league), but thanks to a top-four power play (25.3%), the Blues sit in the upper-third of the NHL with 158 goals collectively. As you would expect, the team’s 131 goals-against also ranks in the top five in the league.
Sniper Vladimir Tarasenko is reportedly skating again, but won’t be back until at least March. However, leaving him on long-term injured reserve for the rest of the regular season would free up $7.5 million of cap space for general manager Doug Armstrong to add extra firepower for another Cup run.
Hart-trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon will be his club’s sole representative at this weekend’s All-Star Game, although it’s still hard to believe that Calder-favorite Cale Makar was snubbed after ranking third in points-per-game (0.90) among defenseman over the season’s first half.
Sitting third in league scoring with 72 points, MacKinnon certainly has the respect of his peers, ranking second in The Athletic’s NHL player poll, only behind Oilers star Connor McDavid. The 24-year-old center’s production is particularly impressive when considering his linemate Mikko Rantanen missed 16 games with a lower-body injury.
— NHL (@NHL) January 21, 2020
Nazem Kadri also makes this a much deeper club than the one that fell to Sharks in seven games in last year’s postseason. The gritty second-line center scored two goals in Colorado’s last game before the break (a 6-3 victory over the Red Wings), extending the team’s win streak to three after an ugly stretch where they lost four straight.
While the Avalanche are worth a roll of the dice at +300, the team will have to improve their .500 record (8-8-2) in the division and hope that the Cup champs fatigue down the stretch.