The Vegas Golden Knights (-125), who will get the debut of Jack Eichel on Wednesday, are surprisingly the favorite for this contest even with a strong 2021-22. The Knights’ season has been nowhere near what the Colorado Avalanche has done this season.
In 1976-77, the Montreal Canadiens posted a 132-point season, and Colorado is in reach of this. Heading into Wednesday, Colorado is on pace to smash the franchise record for regular season points (118, 2000-01). In his sixth season with the Avalanche, head coach Jared Bednar has the team playing the best hockey in the National Hockey League. Prior to Tuesday night, Colorado had not lost in regulation in 2022.
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Have I convinced you yet to take the Avalanche on Wednesday night? Colorado is out for revenge in the contest at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada. The stadium will be rocking, as it was for all of All-Star Weekend. Earlier this season, the Golden Knights went into Ball Arena in Denver and took down the Avalanche.
On October 26, 2021 — which feels like a lifetime ago — the Avalanche (-190 for that contest) went into the game with a 2-3 record, and the Golden Knights did as well. The Knights received first-period goals from Canadians Chandler Stephenson — his third of the season at the time — and Reilly Smith — a shorthanded goal for his first of the season. Then in the third period, Stephenson assisted Evgenii Dadonov’s first goal of 2021-22.
Why the Avalanche will Win
However, the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights are nowhere near as good of a team as the Avalanche. Since December 21, Vegas’ record is just 8-6-3 (19 points). In that span, the Avalanche: 17-1-2 (36 points). Now let us take a look at who makes this Avalanche team arguably the best one in franchise history.
Calder Memorial Trophy — NHL Rookie of the Year — winner Cale Makar is just in his third NHL season. He scored his first goal of the season in the first meeting with the Knights. The Calgary, Alberta native is just 23 years old, and the defenseman is living up to his contract.
Makar made his first All-Star Game in 2022 after making the NHL All-Rookie First Team in 2019-20 and the NHL All-Star First Team in 2020-21. According to Hockey-Reference, he also has the second-most point shares in the league this season. He has been arguably the most valuable Avalanche player this season and is the favorite to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the best defenseman.
Nathan MacKinnon, the league’s leader in assists per game, has been out from the end of January to mid-February. He is back and making the league’s best team even better. Even during his four-game absence, the Avalanche scored multiple goals in each contest and took down the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Make sure to take McKinnon and the Avalanche (+125) as they try to bounce back in this contest.