Colorado Avalanche Takes Total Control of Western Conference Final

Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers
Spread the love

The Western Conference Final was expected to be a tight matchup. Two teams with high potent offences and rich with superstar talents. But similar to the Battle of Florida, this series has shown how much structure and team depth matters. The Colorado Avalanche have a dominant hold on the Edmonton Oilers with a 3-0 series lead. They have had an answer for Edmonton’s electric offence and have shown why they’ve dominated in these playoffs. For now, the Oilers seem to have no counter for Colorado’s game plan. This series is showing why talent alone isn’t enough.

Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers Series Is Nothing Like It Was Promised to Be

Pavel Francouz Keeps Stealing Important Games

In Game 1 of the series, Avs starting goalie Darcy Kuemper went down with an injury. Pavel Francouz replaced him and has been spectacular. Shutting out the Oilers in Game 2 and posting a solid in Game 3, Francouz has done everything asked of him. The series preview made it very clear that both the Avs and Oilers needed more from their goalies. With a .966 save percentage through his two starts, Frankie has given the Avalanche the goaltending they need to dominant play.

NHL free agent frenzy

Embed from Getty Images

On the other side, Mike Smith has been… Mike Smith. He’s made some great saves. However, he allowed too many soft goals as well. Game 1’s light show aside, Smith just hasn’t done enough. A .863 save percentage through three games is not going to be enough. It might be time to consider Mikko Koskinen. Putting up a .952 save percentage in Game 1, Koskinen did a good job in relief of Smith. From now on, the Oilers need a goalie to steal a game. And Smith doesn’t appear to be that guy.

The Oilers Defense Can’t Hold Up

To be fair to Smith, not every goal is on him. The Achilles’ heel to the Oilers has been their defence. Even though their forwards have been doing a decent job on the scoring end, they have no answer for Colorado’s attack. Too many times the Oilers have given up odd-man rushes. This puts Mike Smith in a bad position against a deadly offence.

After an amazing regular season, Darnell Nurse has been the poster for the Oilers’ woes in the playoffs. He’s committed too many turnovers and can’t seem to find a groove. The Avalanche are just taking easy lanes to the net. Edmonton has to adjust quickly to avoid a sweep.

Colorado, however, has done what no one else has: suppress the Oilers’ firepower. Connor McDavid only has two goals through three games. While it was clear every step of the way, playing Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon against McDavid highlights the confidence Jared Bednar has in his lineup.

For the other star players, the Avs have done a decent job too. Leon Draisaitl only has two assists. Evander Kane has spent more time in the penalty box than on the scoreboard. The Avalanche have kept the Oilers’ weapons at bay while their offence continues to produce. Clearly, this is the game plan Colorado wants to continue to execute.

The Avs are Winning with Structure and Depth

The playoffs reward teams that have good structure and team depth. The Avalanche have been able to roll four solid lines against Edmonton. Even though the big names a producing, Colorado is getting contributions for everyone.

J.T. Compher has been an unsung hero in these playoffs. With five goals and two assists for seven points, Compher has given some clutch goals for the Avs. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 3, proving his worth in the bottom six. On the defence end,  Logan O’Connor and Andrew Cogliano have been stars. Despite not pilling up points as others have, they play aggressive defence and force turnovers. On the penalty kill, they’ve helped the Avs quickly snuff out chances. They’re great defensive agitators, and it’s paid dividends.

Embed from Getty Images

Secret Weapons to Win The Avalanche vs Oilers Series

Joe Sakic had a great trade deadline. Along with the aforementioned Cogliano, he traded for defenseman Josh Manson and winger Artturi Lehkonen. Both have produced in bunches in the postseason. They’re physical presence and also putting up some points. It helps Colorado maintain a balanced attack. Sakic built a team that’s designed to go far. They have the big offensive weapons, but the defensive depth to complement them. Sakic’s vision is finally coming together and this will be the secret key to success.

Colorado has Edmonton on the verge of elimination. The worst part is that the Oilers seem to have no answer for the Avs. It feels like it’s no longer a matter of if. It’s when. The Avalanche stands one game away from the Stanley Cup Final. Now they need to finish the job.

Game 4 of the Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers series is scheduled for May 6, at 8 pm EST/5 pm PT.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images