The Day After: Changes are needed as the Oilers head back to Edmonton down 2-0 to the Avs

Photo credit:© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
2 years ago
Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Oilers had played poorly in Game 1 and then came out and won Game 2 with a significantly better effort. The pattern didn’t continue.
The Colorado Avalanche are clearly a different beast than the Kings and the Flames.
The two teams were neck-and-neck in a competitive first period but then the Avs busted things open in the second frame with a three-goal explosion that came in the span of just over three minutes. In the third period, the Avs showed that they’re a team that can do more than just score goals, as they went into an effective defensive shell and completely shut the Oilers down.
Pavel Francouz, who was playing for the injured Darcy Kuemper, stopped 24 of 24 shots for his first-ever playoff shutout. Mike Smith, who was pulled in the second period of Game 1, stopped 36 of 40 shots in a losing effort.
The Oilers are now down 2-0 in the series and will head back to Edmonton for a must-win Game 3. As they say, you’re never truly worried until you lose a game at home, but the first two games against the Avs haven’t inspired much confidence that the Oilers can topple the top team in the Western Conference.

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What they said…

“It’s a series, right? This is how it goes. There are momentum swings. It’s a rollercoaster. They defended home ice, so we have an opportunity to go back, feed off our crowd and get the momentum back.” – Zach Hyman.
“They definitely feed off momentum. They find ways to compound one and turn it into three there. Obviously, it’s on us to grab that. It seems likes shifts after goals, either for or against, have hurt us over the last couple of games. The shift after, they find a way to score right after.” – Connor McDavid.
“I think we’ve had some chances, not as much as we’d like. We’re in the final four, the other team does some good stuff too. But we think there’s more to be had there. We can do a better job of shooting the puck, shooting through structure. Tonight, it didn’t go our way. We’ll go back to the drawing board and we’re prepared to regroup and head home to friendly confines in Edmonton.” – Jay Woodcroft.
“We’ve been a real solid home team for the last little while. We love playing in front of those fans. We’ll get ourselves back in the series at home here.” – Connor McDavid.
“I was kind of thinking I was going to play already after (Tuesday’s) game. For sure, you’re a little nervous and have it in the back of your mind that it’s a really important game, but what helped me was the way our team played tonight since the first seconds and I knew they would help me a lot. That made me more calm and I could just focus on my job.” – Avs goaltender Pavel Francouz.

Worth mentioning…

  • Kailer Yamamoto took a high hit from Gabriel Landeskog in the second period and left the game and didn’t return. Landeskog wasn’t assessed a penalty but Jay Woodcroft expects that the league will take a look at the play… “I thought the player was in a vulnerable position. I thought the angle of the check, the principal point of contact was the head. It’s not my call. I don’t referee the games. I’ve said this ad nauseum and in the playoffs. My job is to coach and not to make the calls. I’m sure the necessary people at the league will look at that hit.”
  • Game 2 might have featured the weakest performances we’ve seen from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the playoffs. The McDavid, Zach Hyman, and Evander Kane line generated just two high-danger chances over 9:15 at even-strength and was on the ice for one goal against. The Draisaitl, Yamamoto, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line didn’t far any better, with two high-danger chances and a goal against at evens.
  • The Avs did a very good job at defending McDavid on the rush, which is an area in which he’s exposed his opponents many, many times in the past. This was the case with Cale Makar in particular, as the Avs outshot the Oilers 13-to-4 in the nearly 10 even-strength minutes in which Makar and McDavid were on the ice at the same time.
  • It’ll be interesting if we see the Oilers stack McDavid and Draisaitl on a line together in Game 3 in Edmonton when Jay Woodcroft has the last change. You ideally want them apart when facing a deep with the forward depth that Colorado has, but putting them back together might be the right move to spark the offence early back in Edmonton. The crowd will be fired up and a hot start will add to the energy.
  • Another area in which we could see a change for Game 3 is Edmonton’s fourth line. Derek Ryan, Josh Archibald, and Zack Kassian played just a few minutes in Game 2 and got scored on twice. Given Darnell Nurse’s nagging injury and the challenges that he’s had with the Avs and their speed, operating with seven defenders might be the move back in Edmonton. There’s also the possibility of adding rookie Dylan Holloway to the mix, a big, fast winger who might be able to add something offensively. We’ll see what Woodcroft has up his sleeve.

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