Colorado Avalanche to win 

Let me start this pick off by acknowledging the massive limb I’m walking out on. There is very little statistical evidence to suggest the Avalanche are going to have a chance to beat the Golden Knights on home ice. Vegas has been dominant in their home arena and that has been the case in this series as well.

Maybe this is a bet my heart is making more than my head because I desperately want to see two more games between these teams in what has been one of, if not the most entertaining series of the postseason to date.

Here’s my rationale, though. The Avalanche should have won Game 5, full stop. They were the better team for longer stretches of the game and the Golden Knights capitalized on some of the mistakes Colorado made over the course of the game.

This Avalanche team has just lost three straight games for only the second time all season. While the playoffs are a different animal, Colorado never lost four in a row all year. This team is too talented to lay an egg in four straight for me, and really, they didn’t lay an egg in Game 5. As noted, I think they were better than Vegas over the bulk of that game and the numbers bear that out.

Playing on the road is a different thing, but so is playing with your life on the line. We finally saw Colorado push back after two games of getting pushed around. At 5-on-5, the Avalanche carried possession for much of the game and owned more than 65 per cent of the scoring chances in the game. It was their best statistical performance of the series to date in terms of the underlying numbers – that includes their Game 1 blowout of the Knights.

If Colorado has a similar effort in Game 6, especially as the road team, they have a chance to stretch this seven games. I think we’re going to see a big pushback from this group.

Over 5.5 total goals 

If we’re going to get aggressive with the pick on the winner, we might as well stay aggressive on the value play by taking the over. The Avalanche are a team are hard to stop once they get rolling. With their postseason lives on the line, expect a massive burst in the first period. If they don’t have that, we probably already know what their fate is going to be in this game.

A hot start is key for the Avs, but as they learned in Game 5, it’s not the cure-all to lead to a win. They have to get hot and stay hot and never take their foot off the gas pedal. The over has been hit only two times in this series to date, with most of the games ending with five goals scored. I think the Avs have to make this similar to Game 1 to have a chance. Get the first few goals and keep pouring it on. It’s as aggressive as I’ve been all year, but I like their chances of extending the series and to do it, they’re going to have to score in bunches.

On top of that, Marc-Andre Fleury looked a little more human in Game 5, having let up that awful goal to Brandon Saad for the game’s first score. The more human the Avs can make him look in Game 6, the better chance they have to take back the series.

Brandon Saad to score anytime 

There has only been one playoff game so far in which Brandon Saad has not scored a goal. It’s a ridiculous string of success, but it’s also an indicator that the Avalanche have been able to spread out their scoring a little more. With Vegas focused on and succeeding at shutting down Nathan MacKinnon, it opens avenues for players like Saad to score.

He’s had so much success that he’s been moved with MacKinnon and Rantanen, which opens things up even further. Playing with elite linemates, but not being the primary defensive focus of the opposition has been working great for him so far.

Under 6.5 total 2-minute penalties

In an elimination game, the referees swallow the whistles. It’s just the way it’s been.

I don’t think there’s any way this game clears seven minor penalties unless things get really chippy. If the game gets out of hand where the score is very lopsided, it’s not the best play, but I think this one will be tight enough where the teams are on decent behavior and the officials don’t want to interfere much with the flow of the game.