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Jeff's 2019-20 NHL Western Conference Spotlight Team: Colorado Avalanche (2018-19 record: 38-30-14, 90 points)
The Avalanche continue their climb after finishing the with just 48 points three seasons ago. Colorado lost in the first round of the playoffs two seasons ago and lost in the second round last year. Colorado knocked off the #1 seed (Calgary) and almost got by a tough veteran Sharks squad. That experience should help the Avs going forward. Las Vegas has set their 2019-20 season point total at 96.5 which surprised me just a tad. I was thinking more like 98 points. After looking at their loaded roster and manageable schedule, I can see this team reaching 100 points rather easily. The Avs will always have a huge advantage playing at home in high-altitude. They need to improve on their 17-16-8 road record which should be attainable. The Avs enjoyed a strong off-season, have one of the best lines in all of hockey, and a super rich prospect pool that ranks in the Top 10. Philipp Grubauer takes over as the #1 goalie after Semyon Varlamov left for the New York Islanders. The former went 18-9-5 with a 2.64 GAA and .917 save percentage. Those numbers were much better than Varlamov's 20-19-9 record, 2.87 GAA, and .909 save percentage. The key will be Grubauer staying healthy while finding a quality backup. I love the fact that Grubauer posted a 7-5 record, 2.30 GAA, and .925 save percentage last postseason. That shows me he's ready to be the #1 goalie this season.
Jeff's Colorado Avalanche Prediction: (46-27-9, #5 seed out West, 101 points)
Jeff's Western Conference Season Point Total best bets: Chicago Blackhawks OVER 90.5 (-115) & Colorado Avs Over 95.5 (-115)
The Blackhawks went 20-10-3 in the final 33 games last season. This team is too talented to not make the playoffs three years in a row. Chicago added to their roster that should make their defense much improved, not to mention the league's worst ranked penalty kill last season. They play in a very tough division, but Chicago should return to the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed in the Western conference.
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