Vegas still favored to win NHL's West Division, but Colorado is coming on strong
The two best teams in the NHL’s West Division will face off in a two-game series this week as the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Colorado Avalanche for games on Thursday (9 p.m. ET) and Saturday (3 p.m. ET). Depending on the results, there could be a new leader in the division when the dust settles.
West Division Winner 2020/2021
Tue, May 11 2021, 4:00 AM
Vegas Golden Knights
St Louis Blues
Los Angeles Kings
San José Sharks
Golden Knights have the best odds – for now
The Golden Knights, who are among the frontrunners for the Stanley Cup, currently have the best odds to win the West Division at -112 on TwinSpires Sports.
Vegas is rolling with a 22-7-1 record and 45 points in 30 games this season. The Golden Knights have also won seven of their last 10 games, and have gotten spectacular goaltending this season from Marc-Andre Fleury, despite his age and mileage.
A $25 wager on Vegas to win the West right now would have a potential payout of $47.50.
Marc-Andre Fleury's success this season has put him in the Vezina Trophy conversation. 🏆— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 25, 2021
The @GoldenKnights netminder joined @SNChrisSimpson on The Big Picture to talk about climbing the NHL’s all-time wins list, his relationships with Robin Lehner and Jim Rutherford, and more. pic.twitter.com/wLgQPw2OlH
The Golden Knights and Avalanche have been neck-and-neck through most of the season, with each team winning twice in their four meetings. They played a four-game set in February – perhaps a preview of things to come in the postseason – with three of the four games being decided by just one goal.
The Golden Knights have been dealing with an assortment of injuries over the past few weeks. Fleury, their No. 1 netminder, has returned from COVID-19 protocols, while forward Max Pacioretty (lower-body injury) could be a game-time decision on Thursday.
The Avalanche are rolling
The Avalanche have also won seven of their last 10 games, and are now just two points back of Vegas for top spot in the West Division. One advantage for Vegas, however, is that the Golden Knights do have one game in hand.
The Avalanche have the second-best odds to win the division at +105 at TwinSpires Sports. The same $25 wager on Colorado to win the division would have a slightly more profitable potential total payout of $51.25.
Colorado had reeled off seven consecutive wins, including two blowout victories over a very good Minnesota Wild team, before a shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
Colorado has been led offensively by Nathan MacKinnon, who is currently riding a seven-game point streak, including 10 points in his last four games.
Nathan MacKinnon is something else. 😳#NHLonSN pic.twitter.com/xKOzYReRwr— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 19, 2021
Philipp Grubauer has assumed the starting position in net and is rolling in March with a .942 save percentage. He's backed by Jonas Johansson, whom Colorado acquired from Buffalo earlier this month for the stretch drive.
Do not count out the Minnesota Wild
The West Division is not just a two-horse race. The Minnesota Wild have positioned themselves nicely to come from behind and take the division.
The Wild are four points back of Vegas for the division lead, with odds of +850 to win the division at TwinSpires Sports. Again, the Golden Knights have one game in hand on Minnesota.
The Wild have been gaining strength since their season was disrupted in February by COVID-19 postponements. Minnesota has won seven of its last nine games, including big wins over Colorado last month, and two wins earlier this month against Vegas.
Their work is certainly cut out for them, in trying to leapfrog Colorado and Vegas for the division lead by the end of the season. But with the deficit standing at four points, it’s far from impossible.