EDMONTON, Alta. –The Oilers hit the ice at Rogers Place to begin preparation for their Western Conference Finals series with the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
The focus in Round 3 begins and ends with one thing: speed.
The Oilers and Avalanche may be lucky enough to have the two fastest players in the National Hockey League in Connor McDavid and Nathan Mackinnon, but both teams play with high tempo in their transition play.
“Dynamic skaters,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said of the Avalanche team. “I think we’ve played well at Colorado all year. They have natural gifts, but so do we. Certainly as we go through the series they’re going to have moments, but we We’re going to do some things to try to prepare our team for the level of speed and skill that will be on the ice.
“I think the way we played before the playoffs and the way we’ve continued to improve over the last two series, we’re playing fast,” Tyson Barrie said. “Obviously we’re watching their streak and they’re as fast as anyone in the league. It’s going to be an exciting game, it’s going to be quick and skillful, but we have to stick to our structure and try to slow it down. shoot them down by points”
Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 05.28.22
When the two clubs faced off this year, it was a hotly contested showcase of the pace at which elite hockey players and teams can play.
The Oilers will enter the series with a 1-0-2 record against the Avalanche in the regular season, but in the two games the Oilers fell to their opponent in the Conference Finals, the results came out of regulation.
Colorado picked up a 3-2 win on March 21 thanks to a 3-on-3 overtime winner from Nathan Mackinnon, and a 2-1 victory on April 9 against a shootout winner also by the Avalanche captain. Edmonton capped its streak against the Avalanche with an emphatic 6-3 victory at Rogers on April 21, a win that secured a playoff berth for the Oilers.
“I think what those three games showed our team, especially in that moment, was that we were a team that could play with the best in the league,” Woodcroft said. “Colorado at that time was fighting for the Presidents’ Trophy. They were top of the league, playing like we did in those games, it showed we had what it takes to play with the best. of the league. In some of these games, it comes down to extra play back and forth. For us, we know the challenge ahead of us.
Video: RAW | Tyson Barrie, Connor McDavid 28.05.22
This time around, there will be no “skills challenge” for Colorado. Both teams will be able to test their mettle against each other in regulation time or in full 5-on-5 overtime like Game 5 against the Calgary Flames that sent the Oilers to the third round.
The Oilers will build on the experiences of the past two series to prepare them for what should be an uphill battle to earn a chance to compete for hockey’s ultimate prize.
“I think we’ve learned a lot about our team in those two series. At this time of year, you have to be ready to win in different ways,” Woodcroft said. “We found our way against a very strict, neutral-zone-specific team in Los Angeles. Then going to beat your rival in five games in a pretty interesting way. Those two teams presented different challenges for us to find our I think it serves us well. It reinforces and reinforces our belief that we have the people in our locker room that we can do it and we can do it in different ways.
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