2022 Stanley Cup playoffs: Takeaways from the West finals

The Colorado Avalanche Enjoy a commanding lead of 2-0 series over the Edmonton Oilers In the Western Conference finals, they look like a formidable team that is ready to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Oilers have returned to Edmonton to play Games 3 and 4, but there are more questions than answers as to how to stop Colorado's attacks and keep them from winning the series.

We've learned a lot so far. Let's see what this means for the future.

Oilers on a climb

Edmonton faces a difficult road ahead.

It is difficult to recover from being down 2-0 against any team in a series. The task is even more daunting when the team is Colorado-caliber.

The Oilers were capable of matching the Avalanche goal-for-goal in Game 1. They almost did. The Oilers were more outmatched in Game 2. Colorado was the one dictating pace, creating opportunities off the rush, rolling behind Oilers' defense, and entering the offensive zone almost at will.

Before Game 3, Edmonton will have to make serious adjustments. Are the Oilers ready to make a comeback at this point?

They have the talent (see also: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl et al). If there is one positive from Game 2, it is that Mike Smith This is what appears to be the point.

Jay Woodcroft, Edmonton coach, picked Smith for Game 2, after having pulled Smith midway through the first game for allowing six goals. Smith was outstanding for the Oilers in game 2 and gave his team every chance of staying in the game. The Oilers didn't have the chance to do anything.

McDavid acknowledged after Game 2 that he hasn't been at his best in this series. Edmonton needs to believe this, and that more magic is still to come from its captain.

Makar isn't enough to be a Norris Trophy-caliber defensive player (which he certainly is) or one the league's brightest blueliners (which again, is true). He's more than just an excellent player. Makar's manner of carrying himself is also remarkable. He is confident, but humble, capable, daring, smart, and skilled. And Makar has needed every one of those assets to be at the forefront of Colorado's defense against McDavid & Co. That's hardly a job for one man, but Makar has been the Avalanche's first line of defense. He handled McDavid's potential breakaway in Game 2 with a textbook approach. Makar is also adept at both joining the rush and knowing when to slow down.

Makar has not seemed to be bothered by the magnitude of this conference finals matchup or with whom he is matched against. Makar has already established a stellar reputation at such a young age. His best games might have been in the first two of these series.

Starts haunt Oilers

Edmonton is a fan of a third-period return. It's less enamored with early leads, or — as the cliché goes — starting on time.

The Oilers can't explain why their starts don't always go as well. If Edmonton had capitalized, Game 1 might have been a different outcome. Evander KaneInstead of allowing one for 36 seconds, it's the ice-breaking goal J.T. Compher. The Oilers found themselves in a 7-3 hole in the second period. It was heartbreaking no matter how hard they tried in the third-period push.

Smith was the one who held the Oilers down in Game 2. Colorado dictated the pace and used its offensive force to dominate the game. Edmonton didn't have any answers for the Avalanche who pounded them and made them look flat-footed. They were fortunate to escape that stretch with the game tied at 0-0.

Edmonton's third playoff series and the third time they were facing a multi-goal deficit in Game 1. This was their fifth consecutive postseason loss by more than two goals. This is a problem that everyone can see, but there are no real solutions. The Oilers seem happy to wait for the urgency kick in, then close the gap. It has worked before. It may work again. Edmonton may be playing too much with fire, which could lead to Edmonton getting burned.

Kuemper concern? Frankie says, relax

Jared Bednar is a cagey discusser Darcy KuemperWhat happened to your upper-body injury, and how long it lasted might keep the Avalanche's starter out.

But Colorado's coach was unambiguous about his belief in Pavel Francouz Kuemper's absence, Francouz was still able to complete the task. Francouz demonstrated why in Game 2 with his second shutout of his postseason career.

He was locked in facing Edmonton's top scorer, following the puck well through traffic while remaining positionally solid. Francouz was able to get a break when he played a puck onto an Oiler stick. This required him to make a quick save halfway between his net line and the blue line. He also effected a key poke-check Darnell Nurse In the second, he displayed another flair for dramatic acting and challenged the Oilers' top players.

Francouz was made easier by the Avs, who built a lead in Game 2, and kept the puck away. It was nevertheless a positive sign for Colorado that Francouz managed to weather the storms in Game 2 with a 24-save performance. Kuemper's absence will not affect the club's goaltending.

Colorado's depth is amazing

Eventually, Mikko Rantanen He was going find his scoring touch.

Edmonton has unfortunately had to face this moment.

Rantanen was a 36-goal regular-season player but had only one goal in the Avalanche’s first 10 playoff matches. It was an empty-netter in St. Louis' 6-3 win. While he had been a great playmaker (10 assists), it was difficult to light the lamp.

There's more.

Rantanen scored two goals in the same series. His chemistry is with Nazem Kadri Rantanen seems like a player who has found his way. This is one more weapon the Avalanche can rely on.

Another player showing confidence? Artturi Lehkonen.

Although he scored the first goal in Game 2, Lehkonen's contributions to the game go far beyond that. Lehkonen is a solid presence on the ice, and is a great trade-deadline acquisition.

There are some great headliners in this series. Colorado is proving why it is such a dangerous team by showing how its players can step up and contribute to the game at any moment.

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