As the Edmonton Oilers try to get back in their series with the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, there are a few storylines heading into the game that could affect the outcome. Among the biggest are some roster changes for the Oilers, still no Darcy Kuemper for the Avs, the series shifts to Edmonton and more.
Still No Kuemper for Avalanche
For the second-straight game, the Oilers will be facing Colorado’s backup netminder Pavel Francouz. Kuemper suffered an upper-body injury in Game 1 and has yet to be cleared to play again. The good news for the Avs is that Francouz earned a shutout in Game 2 behind some stingy Avs defense that effectively shut the Oilers down. The good news for the Oilers is that they know, that if they can generate offense, he is beatable as they scored on him three times in Game 1.
With Darcy Kuemper still injured, Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz will start between the pipes for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. https://t.co/j0kd0Pt0k6
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 4, 2022
Oilers Juggle Roster, Kassian On Top Line
According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers moved things around during practice today. Zack Kassian was dressed in a white jersey, which typically means that player is slotted to be in the top six. He was skating with Evander Kane and Connor McDavid. That’s a very physical line that also has some skill and speed. Kassian has been hit or miss in these playoffs, but he does have the ability to be a difference-maker.
On the second line were Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. One thing to keep in mind is that Draisaitl was slotted in a No. 2 center and that could change over the course of the game. There was no Kailer Yamamoto on the ice, which means he’s likely not going to suit up for the Oilers tonight, and Devin Shore was inserted onto the fourth line at practice.
Oilers Have Home-Ice
The Oilers have typically been very good at home and in a near must-win situation, Edmonton is going to have to feed off of the energy from the fans to get back in this series. Head coach Jay Woodcroft will have last change, which should give him the opportunity to line match in his favor, and with Kassian on the top line, it appears the Oilers will look to get the fans involved early.
Another key for the Oilers is not to take the fans out of the game, specifically by allowing quick goals in succession or letting Colorado score immediately following an Oilers goal. Edmonton has a bad habit of losing focus for a minute or two at a time and they’ll need to avoid that if they want to keep the crowd hyped and on their side.
Keith and Smith Talked to the Defensemen
Both Mike Smith and Duncan Keith showed some of their leadership at practice today by leading a lengthy scrum with the Oilers’ blue line. These are two of the players with the most experience and their leadership will be key in keeping the defense corps calm and focused.
Duncan Keith and Mike Smith do the bulk of the talking in a meeting with the starting goalie and all the D pic.twitter.com/FQ5p8nhkqT
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 4, 2022
Edmonton seems to be sticking with the 12 forwards and six defensemen format which means a lot of minutes for certain players, potentially Darnell Nurse who has struggled in this series and doesn’t appear to be 100%. Nurse wasn’t on the ice today for practice so we’ll see how much he’s used.
The post Storylines Heading to Game 3: Oilers vs. Avalanche appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.
NHL Fantasy Hockey News