After a great, but scoreless first period of hockey, it looked as if Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals would be a tight battle right to the end between two hard-working defenses trying to shut each other down. Within about two minutes of the second period, that thought was a thing of the past. Even worse for the Edmonton Oilers, suddenly the game was essentially over.
The final score was a 4-0 win by the Colorado Avalanche over the Oilers. Nothing seemed to go right for the Oilers. And, in contrast, the Avalanche – and their goalie – grew stronger as the game went on.
In this post, I’ll look at the outcome of the game and share my three takeaways.
Takeaway One: Nazem Kadri Is Playing at a Different Level
Because I mostly cover the Toronto Maple Leafs – when they’re still in the playoff hunt – I’ve come to watch Nazem Kadri play for several seasons. This version of Kadri with the Avalanche is a different kettle of fish than the out-of-control, get-suspended-every-postseason guy who used to play for the Maple Leafs.
Still, some of that edgy play is there. For example, he knocked goalie Mike Smith’s glove off with his stick before the fourth Avalanche goal in the third period. However, most of that over-the-edge play seems to be gone. In addition, he’s playing elite offense.
In those game-defining two minutes during the second period, Kadri registered three assists – all primary. He was likely the offensive difference in this game for the hometown Avalanche. During this postseason, Kadri has now scored six goals and added eight assists (for 14 points) in 12 playoff games. To say that he’s playing well is a bit of an understatement.
Takeaway Two: Who is This Pavel Francouz Anyway?
When Darcy Kuemper went out of Game 1 and was replaced by Avalanche backup goalie Pavel Francouz, Oilers’ fans must have believed Game 2 would be theirs. Certainly, their team would tie up the series to come home to Edmonton to takeover. Not.
Instead, the 32-year-old Czech native threw a shutout at the Oilers, saving all 24 shots the Oilers put on the net. Interestingly, I had never actually looked at Francouz’s record over the years and I was surprised by his history of success.
The Avalanche beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. Nazem Kadri had three assists in a 2:04 span in the second period and backup Pavel Francouz stopped 24 shots for his second career playoff shutout. https://t.co/H7LT4mZUAZ
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) June 3, 2022
Francouz is a great (almost unknown) goalie in his own right. Over his three seasons in Colorado (including the 2022 playoffs), he’s played 61 games and has put up a record of 40-14-5, with a save percentage of .920, and a goals-against-average of 2.46. He was good again last night. He looked in good position all night and was calm throughout.
Takeaway Three: Connor McDavid AND Leon Draisaitl – No Points
To show how dominant the Avalanche were, the team held both Oilers’ superstars – Leon Drasaitl and Connor McDavid – to no points at all in this game. The result was the 4-0 shutout.
In the end, the Oilers lost their second game to start this series. Now both Draisaitl’s and McDavid’s nine-game point-scoring streaks ended.
For both Oilers’ stars, it was only the second game during the postseason that neither had scored a goal. The Los Angeles Kings also shut out the Oilers by a score of 4-0 during the first round of the playoffs.
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