The Colorado Avalanche take their 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals on the road against the Edmonton Oilers. They now look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. However, the last playoff game they played in Edmonton is one that shall not be discussed.
Besides playing in Edmonton for the 2020 bubble playoffs, the last time the Avs played a Canadian team in Canada in the postseason was against the Calgary Flames. In this 2019 first-round series, the Avs found success on the road twice in Games 2 and 5 to close out that series.
The Avs had a story of two different games on home ice in this series. In Game 1, they put up a monstrous eight goals on the Oilers but gave up six of their own after going up 7-3 in the second period.
It was a completely different narrative in Game 2, where they played a complete 60 minutes on both sides of the puck in a 4-0 win. Now, they face a tough test at the home arena of Connor McDavid and the Oilers. However, the Avs may not be phased considering they’re a perfect 5-0 on the road this postseason.
With the status of Darcy Kuemper still unknown, we might see superstar backup Pavel Francouz come back in to start. He will look to continue to have the support of Nazem Kadri, who recorded three assists in Game 2. Mikko Rantanen is also getting warm at the right time, with two goals in the last two games. Don’t expect any lineup changes from Game 2’s masterful performance.
Gabriel Landeskog (92) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nazem Kadri (91) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Alex Newhook (18) - J.T. Compher (37) - Nicolas Aube-Kubel (16)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Darren Helm (43) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)
Bowen Byram (4) - Erik Johnson (6)
Jack Johnson (3) - Josh Manson (42)
The Oilers will look to show back up to the series in a big way. Back on home ice, they will have the fans behind them that they certainly did not have in Colorado. Down 2-0, they need a big Game 3 performance to cut the series lead in half.
The star of the series so far has been Evander Kane, as his play on the ice was good in Game 1, but comical in Game 2. He didn’t record any points in the shutout obviously but was rewarded with four minutes of penalties. His antics also sent him to the dressing room for an early shower Thursday night as part of a desperation act.
His linemates of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been shut down in this series, only having five points combined - all from Game 1 of course. But, considering they combined for 29 points in five games against the Calgary Flames, the expectations for them are high. They will look to get going once again back at Rogers Place.
Evander Kane (91) - Connor McDavid (97) - Leon Draisaitl (29)
Zach Hyman (18) - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) - Kailer Yamamoto (56)*
Warren Foegele (37) - Ryan McLeod (71) - Jesse Puljujarvi (13)
Josh Archibald (15) - Derek Ryan (10) - Zack Kassian (44)
Darnell Nurse (25) - Cody Ceci (5)
Duncan Keith (2) - Evan Bouchard (75)
Brett Kulak (27) - Tyson Barrie (22)
*Note: Yamamoto was injured in Game 2 and his status is currently unknown.
For the Oilers, they will likely continue with Mike Smith. While he hasn’t been great, they’ll be hoping he can get back on track on home ice. For the Avs, all we know about Kuemper is that “he’s good.” Whatever that means, it wouldn’t be a shock if he missed once again and the dominant Francouz comes in between the pipes once again.