Well, the schedule makers certainly didn’t make it easy on the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks will begin Year 1 of the Luke Richardson era with a trio of road games this week, starting with an opener against the defending champs tonight. The Blackhawks will face the Colorado Avalanche at 8:30 p.m. CT in a game that will be broadcasted on TNT for the whole world to see.
Oddsmakers don’t believe this game will be much of a challenge for the Avalanche, who won the Stanley Cup a few months ago and will have their championship banner raising ceremony tonight. Caesars Sportsbook, the official odds partner of Bet Chicago Sports, makes the Avalanche a -430 favorite on the moneyline while their puck line of -1.5 is priced at -150.
If you are new to hockey betting, this means that you would have to bet $430 to win $100 on the moneyline, but just need the Avalanche to win on opening night. If you were to bet on the puck line, a $150 bet would net $100 if the hosts won by at least two scores.
The Blackhawks obviously offer more enticing odds, with a moneyline price of +328 and a puck line value of +130 to stay within two scores. The total is currently listed at 6.5, as the over is juiced to -115 and the under is listed at -105.
Contender vs. rebuilding team
To say these two teams have different expectations entering the 2022-23 campaign would be an understatement.
The Avalanche are favored to defend their crown with +400 odds to win the Stanley Cup at Caesars Sportsbook. They were +600 entering the year last year, per the database at sportsoddshistory.com, before they went on to win their first Stanley Cup since 2001.
Colorado finished the postseason with a 16-4 record for the 12th-best win percentage of any champion. The Avs posted a goals-per-game differential of +1.5, which ranked 13th amongst all champions. They averaged 4.25 goals per game, the highest clip by a Cup winner since 1998.
The Blackhawks are in a completely different place entering the season, as they are priced at 200/1 to win the Stanley Cup at Caesars Sportsbook. Only the Arizona Coyotes (300/1) have longer odds to win it all entering the new year.
In fact, the Blackhawks have the second-best odds to finish with the lowest regular-season total points in the league. They have a price of +350 to do so at Caesars Sportsbook, and that might not be a bad thing to bet before the puck drops.
Tonight’s matchup marks the fourth time that these two teams have met in the opener, as the Avs have won all three games thus far. The Avalanche are 75-55-9 all-time against the Blackhawks, including a 55-32-11 since moving to Colorado.
The Avs went 4-0 against the Blackhawks last season, which included a 4-2 victory in the opener. These two teams will meet three times this year, though the next matchup won’t take place until Jan. 12.
Shane Jackson’s Pick
To be honest, this probably is a game that you should stay away from. Because these two teams are in such different places, bettors can’t get any sort of value to bet on the defending champions and there really isn’t much of an argument to back the Blackhawks.
But I’ll eat the juice and bet on the Avs to ultimately win this game by two scores. The puck line is actually 2.5 at other sportsbooks, which is a rare thing in hockey betting and speaks to the overall mismatch in this opener.
There is probably a case to be made that the Avs start slow on banner night, but their talent should ultimately prevail. I’d rather just play it safe by betting on that with a half-unit play, and hopefully get a win on the board to start the season. For tracking purposes, I played the puck line at -143 and would be comfortable playing at its current price.
It is a long year, though, and we will get an opportunity to bet on the Blackhawks at some point this season.
Bet: Avalanche -1.5 (-143) — 0.5 units to win 0.35 units