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Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild Game 6 Gambling Preview & Free NHL Picks

Avs vs Wild NHL Handicapping

Suspicions at the beginning of this series turned out to be true – Minnesota acquisition Ilya Bryzgalov has made a goat of himself in net. Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper has given admirable effort in relief, but he isn’t a front-line starter.

However, Colorado’s advantage in this rather up-and-down series can be boiled down to one young phenom: Nathan MacKinnon.

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Date/Time: Monday, April 28 2014, 9 pm EST
Venue: Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul MN
Colorado, Minnesota -134
Over/Under: 5
Colorado leads the best-of-seven series 3 games to 2

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Colorado’s top pick in this year’s draft is proving priceless thus far in the first round. MacKinnon’s game-winning OT goal in Game 5 completed the comeback for the Avs, after a third-period marker by P.A. Parenteau tied the game at 3-3 and sent it to extra time.

MacKinnon is the league’s leading playoff scorer and is leading a charge of young studs that is making the Avalanche formidable.

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The teenager joins captain Gabriel Landeskog, playmaker Ryan O’Reilly and scoring machine Matt Duchene as a group of under-24 players that are guiding this talented club under the stewardship of rookie coach Patrick Roy.

Colorado finished the season in the NHL’s Top 5 in both goals per game and power-play efficiency, so everyone knew that the Minnesota goaltending would be a fulcrum point of this series. The Wild faithful have to be concerned with how it’s gone to this point.
It hasn’t been all terrible; in Minny’s two victories, it allowed just one goal combined. But in Colorado’s three wins, the Avs have scored 13 goals. This inconsistency is what could well lead to the Wild’s early playoff exit.

Apart from the unreliable situation between the pipes, Minnesota is a team well-built to win gritty, low-scoring playoff affairs. With plenty of trusty, proven skaters, the Wild are capable of snagging control of this series if they could be confident in the last line of defense.

One issue for the Wild is that apart from all of Colorado’s scoring threats, the Avs have been getting some pretty stellar goaltending as well. Semyon Varlamov is a bona fide Vezina Trophy candidate this year and has been living up to the billing so far in Round 1.

Even if the Wild stifle Colorado’s hot offense, they have to find a way to solve Varlamov.

Hockey-mad Minnesota has always provided a raucous postseason atmosphere, so the Wild will have an extra boost of an enthusiastically supportive home crowd in the Xcel Energy Center.

Kuemper took over for “Bryz” in the midst of Game 2, when the Russian was proving he was falling flat. The two Wild wins in Games 3 and 4, when Kuemper was stingy and the “Avalanche” of goals were stopped, augurs well for Minnesota’s ability to ratchet up the performance at home and push this series to a deciding Game 7.

However, young MacKinnon (so young, in fact, his OT goal last game made him the youngest player to score an OT playoff goal in the NHL since 1943) is the hottest hockey player in the world right now and with so many other scoring threats, the Avs have to like their chances of finishing this series in six and earning themselves some rest before the next round.

In no way should the finger be pointed at Kuemper. He has done his best and has often been strong. But Minnesota took a gamble with acquiring Bryzgalov, and when you are a team like the Wild that isn’t an offensive juggernaut, goaltending is vital in the playoffs.

It appears the gamble has backfired. Colorado should finish this series with a hard-fought win in Game 6.

Colorado 3, Minnesota 2 (OT)


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