Many people like to wish others good health for the upcoming new year, and the Colorado Avalanche would gladly take those offerings.
The Avs have had to deal with knee surgery in the offseason from Gabriel Landeskog, still having him yet to make his 2022/23 debut, then Nathan Mackinnon goes down in early December with an upper-body injury, and now goaltender Pavel Francouz has been sidelined the last two weeks and is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.
While Colorado may be a bit banged up, the Toronto Maple Leafs do not care, as they’ll take a win in any way, shape, or form to try and catch the scorching Bruins for the Atlantic division lead. That being said, the Maple Leafs didn’t exactly exert themselves on Thursday, getting blown out 6-3 against Arizona as a -283 favorite.
The Maple Leafs are still at -142 for this New Year’s Eve visit to Denver.
Leafs Coming Off an Ugly Loss
Thursday night’s contest in Tempe was just another example of how there is no sure thing in sports – even when it looks like there is. Toronto was coming into the meeting with the Coyotes on a three-game win streak and took a 3-2 lead into the third period before the wheels absolutely came off, and Arizona scored four goals in the final 20 minutes to pick up the 6-3 victory.
While the loss to the Coyotes was concerning for Leafs fans, the Avalanche also lost 6-3 to the Coyotes just two games prior as -225 favorites to snap a four-game win streak.
It wouldn’t be a shocker to see Toronto go with Ilya Samsonov in net to close out 2022, considering Matt Murray gave up four goals on a mere 21 shots last time out against Arizona. Samsonov is 11-3 on the year, and his 2.20 GAA is third-best in the NHL, so it’s really time he becomes the full-fledged #1 starter in net.
Colorado is Surviving Well
It’s hard enough dealing with a Stanley Cup victory hangover and losing one of the key contributors to that championship Nazem Kadri in the offseason, so the injuries to Landeskog, Mackinnon, and Francouv are not what Colorado really needed right now. That being said, the Avs are showing the heart of a winner despite all of that, going 6-2-2 over their last ten and sitting just nine points out of first place in the Central.
It was a good 2022 for the Avs hoisting the Stanley Cup, but they don’t want to end the year on a three-game losing streak. The 6-3 loss to Arizona was a shocker, and the 5-4 SO loss to Los Angeles wasn’t as bad, with the Kings being a second-place team, but Colorado was still a -139 favorite in that matchup.
With Francouz sidelined, we’re looking at Alexandar Georgiev back in net once again. The Avs are just 5-6 in his December starts, although he did go on a four-game run where he allowed four total goals before surrendering nine in the last two games to the Coyotes and Kings.
Maple Leafs at Avalanche Pick
Toronto is a decent 9-6-3 in away games this year, but they’ve liked visiting Colorado recently with a 7-3 record in their last ten trips to Denver.
One thing that definitely happens when these two teams meet up is that the game is usually high scoring. The ‘over’ has hit in 11 straight head-to-head games in Denver and is 7-1-1 in the last nine overall. That’s the trend to follow to close out 2022.
Pick: Over 6.5