If there’s one thing any fan of the Colorado Avalanche knows well enough, it’s that this team never does anything the easy way. Nevertheless, heading into the 2020-21 NHL season, belief had grown enough to suggest this could be a landmark campaign. Many of the leading pundits were actually viewing the Avs as potential Stanley Cup winners. However, recent results have led to predictions being revised, with the team proving less than convincing of late.
Bookies Now Questioning Avalanche
At the start of the 2020-21 NHL season, Colorado Avalanche was considered to be one of the three primary contenders for the Stanley Cup this year. Alongside them were reigning champions Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights. However, as our very own Scott MacDonald has pointed out, inconsistency became a big problem for the team. This was underlined by the 6-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks, in a game the Avs had been leading 2-0 at one point.
While diehard fans insist such results are occasionally part of the game and par for the course during the regular season campaign, the mixed bag recent outcomes haven’t gone unnoticed by oddsmakers. After the March fixture schedule started with defeat, the Avalanche have also slipped outside the top three Stanley Cup contenders, their futures odds at +750 and likely to lengthen further, unless the consistency issue can be resolved.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) March 2, 2021
February form has clearly been a strong influence for the sportsbooks, as they continue to adjust betting market odds, weighing up which teams are capable of going all the way this season. Heading into the current season, Vegas Golden Knights were tipped as the Stanley Cup favorites, and in four encounters against them, Colorado won two and lost two. An even balance between two of the strongest sides in the League, based on preseason odds.
Then came the 6-2 loss against Minnesota Wild, another inexplicable reverse, which inevitably left oddsmakers scratching their heads and wondering what to make of the Avalanche. Back-to-back wins against Arizona Coyotes undoubtedly restored some confidence, before March opened with a bit of reality from the Sharks. This inevitably raises doubts about whether Colorado is actually the real deal this season.
Pressure Mounting in the Honda West
Let’s be honest here, this season was never going to be easy or straightforward with the NHL coming up with a divisional realignment. Among the teams that would compete in the new Honda West Division, albeit just for the current campaign, the Avalanche were faced with an almighty challenge right from the start.
The fierceness of the competition has raised few eyebrows. After all, this is a division that features three of the top five Stanley Cup betting favorites in the preseason. Making the postseason playoffs requires finishing in the top four, and there’s a fierce battle for those positions. Even qualifying for the playoffs is anything but certain for the Avalanche, especially given their inconsistent form of late.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) February 23, 2021
The Vegas Golden Knights are matching their expectations, leading from the front for much of the campaign so far, although the chasing pack is compact and a good run for any of the top six teams could paint an entirely different picture. The Avs find themselves clinging to the third spot right now.
Colorado needs a good string of results against teams which, in theory, they should be capable of beating with relative comfort, if such a thing actually exists when teams do battle on the ice. Throughout the month of March, the Avalanche will mostly be facing teams beneath them in the Honda West Division. That’s a perfect opportunity to reassert themselves and remove any lingering doubts.
Postseason or Bust for Colorado
Given the preseason predictions for Colorado Avalanche, anything less than reaching the playoffs would be hugely disappointing, halting a run of three consecutive postseason appearances and steady progress. Were that to happen, hopefully the ownership and management would take it on the chin, without any rash decisions, in what has otherwise been a gradual upward trajectory for the team.