3 Keys: Avalanche at Oilers, Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals


3 Keys: Avalanche at Oilers, Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals

Avalanche (1C) at Oilers (2P)

8 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS

Colorado leads the best-of-7 series 3-0

The Colorado Avalanche advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2001 by beating the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at Rogers Place.

“It’s definitely a mentality that you have to have to try and complete a series,” defends Avalanche JackJohnson said. “It’s always the hardest thing to win. Each series develops a life of its own. Each series is a different challenge. We’re just trying to stay focused and play the same way and try to get better with every game and every night because every night it’s getting harder.”

[RELATED: Complete Avalanche vs. Oilers series coverage]

Colorado defeated the Nashville Predators in the first round and won Game 4 5-3. With a chance to eliminate the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of Round 2, the Avalanche lost 5-4 in overtime before winning 3-2 in Game 6.

The Oilers are in the playoffs for the third time. They won games 6 and 7 of the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton plays without Evander Kane. The forward was suspended by the NHL Player Safety Division for one game for mounting the Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri 1:06 in Game 3.

Kadri is out of the series due to an upper body injury. Kane leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 13 goals in 15 games.

“We’ve been doing that all season, it’s the next man up mentality,” says Oilers Leon Draisaitl said. “We have enough great players in our squad who can fill up with energy and do a great job. I’m not too worried.”

Teams leading a best-of-7 series 3-0 are 198-4 in NHL history, 2-0 in the 2022 playoffs.

Here are 3 keys for Game 4:

1. Oilers need more zone time

Edmonton struggled to build offensive pressure, which wasn’t a problem earlier in the playoffs. The Oilers averaged 4.00 goals per game in the postseason but have scored two in their last two games, losing Game 2 in Denver 4-0 and Game 3 in Edmonton 4-2.

“We don’t spend that much time in their zone, so don’t net the puck as often as you’d like.” Forward Zach Hyman said. “They’re breaking out really fast right now.

“[In Game 3] We were able to stop her breakout better than the previous two, get on the forecheck, and hold the puck a little longer. In order for us to be successful, we need to play this tough game and devote a few minutes to these experienced defenders.”

2. Avalanche wants the puck to move

One of the advantages the Avalanche had was that they could hold the puck and move quickly in all zones.

Hyman pointed out that this was one of the reasons the Oilers had such trouble forechecking.

The Avalanche want to keep doing that.

“We have to live up to our identity, stay aggressive and confident and attack as much as possible,” said coach Jared Bednar. “It’s part of who we are and part of what makes us good.”

3. Rejigging Chemistry

The Avalanche will have multiple options for taking Kadri’s place Mikko Rantanen or JT Compher Move to the Second Line Center. Compher played there in Game 3 after Kadri was injured.

Bednar didn’t tap his hand.

“Depending on what they’re doing with their lines, we have a couple of options,” Bednar said. “There are certain matchups I like more than others against some of their talents. We’ll look at that. We have a number of different guys that could go in there and we could structure our lineup in different ways. We may have to change it as the game progresses.”

Estimated formation of Avalanche

Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonValery Nikhushkin

Arturi Lehkonen — Mikko Rantanen — Andre Burakowski

Alex Newhook — JT Compher — Nico Storm

Andrew CoglianoDarren HelmLogan O’Connor

Devon ToewsKal Makar

Jack Johnson – Josh Manson

Bowen ByramEric Johnson

Pavel Françouz

Justus Annan

scratched: Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid

Hurt: Samuel Girard (Sternum), Darcy Kumper (upper body), Nazem Kadri (upper body), Nicolas Aube Kubel (Lower body)

Oiler’s predicted lineup

Zach Hyman- Connor McDavidZack Kassian

Ryan Nugent Hopkins — Leon Draisaitl — Josh Archibald

Warren FoegeleRyan McLeodJesse Puljujarvi

Derek RyanDerick Brassard

Darnell nurseCody Ceci

Duncan KeithEvan Bouchard

Brett KulakTyson Barrie

Kris Russel

mike smith

Michko Koskinen

scratched: Devin shore, Olivier Rodrigue

Hurt: Kailer Yamamoto (Upper body)

suspended: Evander Kane

status report

Kuemper took part in the morning skate but is unlikely to play. The goalkeeper has been eliminated since leaving at 7:19 of the second period in Game 1. … Yamamoto is unavailable, Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said. The forward was injured in a Landeskog hit in the first period of Game 2… The Oilers are expected to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Brassard is expected to play without Yamamoto and Kane.

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