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The Colorado Avalanche have a chance to go up 3-0 against the Edmonton Oilers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Avalanche snuck out an 8-6 win in Game One in a solely offensive battle. Each team averaged 42 shots, and 14 combined goals came as a result of it. Game Two was slightly different; the Avalanche’ defense showed up, but the Oilers’ defense was virtually nonexistent once again. The Avalanche scored four goals on 40 shots, and the Oilers were held scoreless on 24 shots. Edmonton needs their big names to show up if they want any chance of staying in this series.
The Colorado Avalanche averaged 3.76 goals per game during the season and have been even more offensively efficient in the Playoffs; they are averaging almost 4.6 goals a game and not giving up nearly that many goals.
The Avalanche have seen impressive offensive efficiency from Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, and Gabriel Landeskog. These players have at least 14 Playoff points in less than 14 games. Cale Makar stands out the most in this group. The 23-year-old defenseman is playing over 26 minutes a game and has four goals, 13 assists, and a team-leading +/- of 11. Nathan MacKinnon has also played very well in the Playoffs. He averages well over one point a game during the season and is averaging 1.33 points a game in the Playoffs. He has taken an insane 70 shots in 12 games and has ten goals.
The Avalanche are facing a tricky goaltending situation. Darcy Kuemper has started most of their games but was taken out of Game One after getting injured. Kuemper did not play Game Two, but backup netminder Pavel Francouz put on a miraculous showing and stopped all 24 shots he saw. It is unclear if Kuemper will be ready to play in Game Three, but the Avalanche should hope he is ready. Francouz is a solid netminder, but Kuemper is more experienced.
The Edmonton Oilers were quite impressive in the Second Round, beating the Calgary Flames in five games. However, they are down 2-0 in this series and need this win more than ever.
The Oilers have the best duo in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl; they combined for 233 points in the season and 57 points in 14 Playoff games. Their numbers are basically identical. However, McDavid has had a much more positive influence. McDavid has a +/- of 17 compared to Draisaitl’s +/- of five.
If you thought the Avalanche has a difficult goaltending situation, the Oilers have an even more complicated one. Mike Smith has started almost all of their Playoffs game, but his play is inconsistent. He can be the best goalie in the league or one of the worst. Smith started Game Two and gave up four goals, so I would not be surprised if Jay Woodcroft looks to Mikko Koskinen in this game.
The Oilers are playing their first game at home in this series, and that should be enough to give them a victory.
|Colorado Avalanche||Head-to-Head||Edmonton Oilers|
|Jared Bednar||Head Coach||Jay Woodcroft|
|56-19-7 (1st in Central Division)||Standing||49-27-6 (2nd in Pacific Division)|
|Cale Makar (17)||Points||Connor McDavid (29)|
|Nathan MacKinnon (10)||Goals||Evander Kane (13)|
|Cale Makar (13)||Assists||Connor McDavid (21)|
|Cale Makar (11)||+/-||Connor McDavid (17)|
|Nathan MacKinnon (5.83)||Shots (Per Game)||Zach Hyman (4.21)|
The Colorado Avalanche are the favorites but will only get the victory if they play strong defense and draw penalties.
The Avalanche showed what strong defense can do in Game Two. After giving up six goals in Game One, they only allowed the Oilers to get 24 shots in Game Two and held them scoreless. The Avalanche defensemen need to bring that same energy into this game.
The Avalanche are converting over 31% of their power-play attempts in the Playoffs and have scored one power-play goal in each of the last two games. They must continue drawing penalties and scoring with a man advantage.
The Oilers are in desperate need of a win but will only get it if they score the first goal and take 40+ shots.
The Oilers are playing at home and need to take advantage of it by scoring the first goal. Edmonton has to set the tone early and can only do it by scoring the first goal.
The Oilers may have to win this game by scoring 4+ goals. They can only do that by scoring 40+ shots against these tough Avalanche goaltenders.
Nazem Kadri may be 31-years-old, but he is still playing at a very high level. The Canadian center had 87 points in 71 games during the season and has 14 points in 12 games in the Playoffs.
Kadri had three assists last game and needs to continue looking for his teammates. If he cannot find his teammates, he should create his own shots.
Duncan Keith is in the back half of his career and has slowed down considerably. However, in Game Two, he finished with a +/- of 0. Keith played over 23 minutes and did not allow one goal in that time.
Keith needs to keep making the right plays, and the Oilers might stand a chance.
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|Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers Information|
|What||Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers|
|Where||Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta|
|When||Saturday, June 4, 8:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||TNT|
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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