Smash Oilers vs. Avalanche: Key Players, Injury Updates, Story Facts, and More

Nathan McKinnon Make sure to enjoy ColoradoA win over St. Louis on Game Six night, but he didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the team’s next challenge: Conor McDavidAnd the Leon Drystel and the Edmonton Oilers.

“It should be a whole team effort to shut these guys down,” he said. “But we are confident. We feel that if we give our best, we can make it against anyone.”

The Western Conference Final begins Tuesday in Denver. The hockey world expects great goals, a high-octane attack from both sides, and no matter the outcome, some of the NHLThe best young players get the chance to play in the Stanley Cup.

It’s a series with an all-star cast, and the two main roles are played by centers of franchise pushing for the ultimate goal. McDavid’s Oilers are in the third round for the first time since 2006, when the team reached the final before dropping to the final. Carolina Hurricanes In seven games.

To say MacDavid is impatient is an understatement. Before match 5 against CalgaryCaptain Oilers said he was “desperate” to finish the series. Maybe it was the feeling fueled by some bad memories, Like April 2019 when he said, “Personally, I want to play in the playoffs. I am not happy with that. It will be a long summer.”

The team has already reached new heights during the McDavid era and will strive to achieve even more.

The avalanche has experienced similar frustrations, with star McKinnon more visible while expressing the same sentiments in 2021. After Vegas wiped out an avalanche.

Now one of these great players will live the dream of playing in the Stanley Cup Final. the other? Another year of frustration, with some progress being made to ease the pain.

Avalanche has the look of a champ, and the Oilers have a new coach in Jay Woodcroft who has solved every problem since Valentine’s Day.

Who and what are the main factors in the match? Here’s the breakdown from avalanche writer Peter Pugh and Oilers writer Alan Mitchell.

Who is the only player who should advance for each team?

spore: Darcy Comber He didn’t have his best streak against blues. He saved 5.13 fewer goals than expected over the course of the second round, per Evolution-Hockey game, and finished the series with an 892 save percentage. That’s less than ideal, but Kuemper looked much better during the regular season, with a 37-12-4 record and 0.921 save percentage. to provide. He finished the year with 15.77 GSAx, per hockey evolutionWhich is ranked sixth in the NHL.

Whether Kuemper gets back on track, it could be the difference between Colorado going home or reaching the Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers are likely to put more pucks on the net than did the blues, and this could give the net keeper a chance to find a groove.

Mitchell: Mike Smith He’s had big moments in the post-season but he needs to build up his consistency. In the five games against Calgary in the second round, his save percentages on all strengths, by game, were .700, .925, .970, .906 and .889, with a sequential total of 0.907. His team needs to rely more on goal in the face of the avalanche.

Colorado State can bury a team with exceptional skill like MacKinnon and Cal MakarAnd the avalanche isn’t likely to suffer a mass drop in scoring like it did in the final series of the Flames series. One thing is for sure: Smith has the confidence to play in the big moment. The question is, will performance follow?

Mike Smith (Ron Chinoy / USA Today)

What is the health status of each team?

spore: lost avalanche Samuel Gerrard In the second round series after the defender received a blow from the Blues forward Ivan Barbashev. He suffered a broken sternum and will miss the rest of the qualifiers. Jack Johnson Playing his place in the last three games of the Blues series, he put together a solid 4 game but made an exorbitant turn in Game 6.

Aside from Gerrard, everyone on the team is available. This leaves the team with several backup options. defense men Curtis MacDiarmid And the Ryan Murraythe attackers Alex Newhawk And the Nico Sturm They were all healthy scratches in Match 6 against St. Louis, and Andrei Burakovsky And the Logan O’Connor Sat at points of the chain.

Mitchell: Draisaitl was nursing a leg/ankle injury that forced a move to the right wing, where he thrived on the McDavid streak. Late in the series Against Flame, it looks like Draisaitl is on the cusp of a full recovery, and that could signal a return to center stage. nurse darnell He missed a match (suspended) during qualifying, and was suffering from a lower-body injury that affects his foot speed.

Oscar CliffboomThe best defender in the team when he was injured, he has not played since August 2020 (playoff bubble) due to a shoulder injury that appears to have ended his football career.

How do the stars of the team play?

spore: McKinnon’s base streak wasn’t as silly as, say, McDavid in the second round, but it Quietly put a good string against a difficult task in Ryan O’Reilly, a former winner of Con Smith and Silk and one of the best defensive positions in the league. Avalanche of scoring chances and expected goals with McKinnon dominated the ice against the Blues captain, and McKinnon still averaged more than a point per game, ending the streak with three goals and four assists.

Makar had a series of ups and downs by his standards, neither he nor Miko Rantanen Score a net non-blank goal in the second round. Colorado could find another tool if the two of them could find a groove in their scoring.

Mitchell: McDavid on another level. I started in a game of 6 against kings And it lasted through the entire series against the flame. Draisaitl has already beaten the captain in the five games against the Flames, scoring two goals and 17 points in all positions (McDavid had three and 12).

Zach Heyman (six goals) and Evander King (five) He also contributed major efforts against Calgary.

face to face

Who is the surprise candidate for the third round?

Mitchell: Evan Bouchard He’s not yet famous and his defense will not go unnoticed. Playing it without a disc is a work in progress, which makes it a target for opponent attackers. But against Calgary, Bochard had more good moments than bad ones, and the Oilers took the goal 5-5, 6-5 while on the ice.

A good passer known for his ability to get pucks into the net, he scored two five-to-five goals in the Battle of Alberta, adding a power-playing goal.

Edmonton’s defense will be challenged by an avalanche. Bouchard’s strong performance could be a precursor to the NHL. It is a special talent.

spore: Rantanen is still facilitating things at a high level, scoring 10 assists in the post-season, but apart from an empty net goal against the Blues, he has yet to score in this playoff. The Finnish star has scored 36 goals this season and scored 39 goals in 82 matches over the past four seasons together. At some point, he’ll find his own scoring touch and break this post-season.

Rantanen is already a well-known talent, but in terms of a young player like Bouchard who could gain more of a reputation at the league level, a 20-year-old defender Bowen Byram He was playing very well and took on more responsibility with Gerrard out. He had five assists against the Blues, and tied him up with Scott Stevens in the second most assists ever in a non-seven-game series by a defender 20 or younger, according to TSN’s Stats Center. (When I wrote that, I realized how many qualifiers there are in that statement, but it’s impressive regardless.)

What story are you looking forward to?

Mitchell: Ryan Nugent Hopkins It was the #1 pick in the 2011 draft entry, and instantly fell under the shadows Taylor Hall (Picked the previous year). In every season he played, Nuge had overshadowed him; His full game never saw the limelight on the big stage.

If Draisaitl stays on McDavid’s streak, we could see Nugent-Hopkins match up with Nazim Qadri, an exceptional center that also has a powerful and complete game. Nog is determined but unbroken (4-4 goals in five-for-five runners-up) during the Flames streak, and he’ll need to deliver the same advantage against Colorado unless Drysettl moves into the middle.

spore: And who was the No. 2 pick in the Nogent Hopkins enlistment category? Avalanche captain Gabriel Landskog.

But this is not the story I look forward to so much. My answer is unoriginal but, I hope, fair: The confrontation between McDavid and MacKinnon is as good as the league could have dreamed of. What generational position will take the next step and reach the cup?

Also, the Battle of Colorado cannons Josh Manson And his dad, Edmonton assistant Dave Manson, should be fun.

How much pressure is placed on each team?

spore: Avalanche gained one hump by winning the second round series. The team had not reached the conference finals since 2002 and had lost in the second round in three consecutive seasons.

Although that weight was off Colorado’s back, the team did not enter the season hoping to get out of the second round. General Manager Joe Sakic has built a roster full of superstars and depth, and Avalanche has legitimate aspirations for the Stanley Cup. Although Colorado will still be very talented next season, she will likely lose her talent to free agency. Kadri, Burakovsky, Valery NeshushkinKuemper, Manson, Andrew CoglianoAnd Murray Storm and Jack Johnson are all on expired contracts. Sakic will have enough room to bring back some of those players, but the squad will almost certainly be less deep in 2022-23. This adds pressure to win now. Losing the Conference Finals wouldn’t be as painful as falling in the second round, but it would nonetheless be a disappointment for this team.

Mitchell: The backstory in Edmonton is like an avalanche, but the quality of the overall roster is not on the same level, and that would be a factor. Never mind a fan base thirsty for a return to the Stanley Cup Final, thirsty to see McDavid pass the Stanley Cup to Draisaitl and the rest of the crew.

There is pressure everywhere. General Manager Ken Holland is in the third year of a five-year deal, and the two supplement wins are the first sign of success since his arrival.

Woodcroft and Dave Manson took over the coaching position in February and are working towards new contracts that will surely arrive after the playoffs.

McDavid’s words from Spring 2019 still stand, and the pressure to break through and win the Stanley Cup has propelled him (and organization) since his arrival. That passion and commitment is a huge part of what drives this team.

Winning the Stanley Cup is the only thing. For an Edmonton organization, great gifts come with great expectations.

regular season series

Date result

March 21

Avalanche 3-2 overtime

April 9

Avalanche 2-1 So

April 22

6-3 . oiled

(Top image: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)