Avalanche’s Western Conference Final Takeaways

The Colorado Avalanche advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2001 after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in the 2022 Western Conference Finals. Avalanche’s methodical effort reflected that of an ultra-determined group, utilizing a “next man up” mentality and executing when the stakes were highest.

Here are some takeaways from the Avalanche Western Conference Finals:


FULL TEAM EFFORT:

The Avalanche put on a whole team effort in the Western Conference Finals as 16 of 20 skaters scored at least one point in the four-game series and 10 of those 16 skaters produced multi-point outs.

Kal Makar got the team up to speed with nine points (2G, 7A), including a five-point performance (1G, 4A) in the successful final Game 4 of the Avalanche. Mikko Rantanen led the team with four goals while also providing two assists.

Video: Toyota Game Recap: WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPS


HIGH-OCTANE INJURY

Colorado’s offense averaged 5.50 goals per game, the most in the NHL throughout the series. In addition to scoring more than four goals in all four games, the team also scored more than six goals twice in the series (Games 1 and 4). The Avs also had the most shots per game of the remaining teams, with a nightly average of 40.7 shots.

Including Makar and Rantanen, Arturi Lehkonen (2G, 4A), Gabriel Landeskog (2G, 4A), Nathan MacKinnon (3G, 2A), Devon Toews (1G, 4A), Nazem Kadri (1G, 3A), JT Compher (3G), Valery Nikhushkin (2G), Andrew Cogliano (1G, 1A), all recorded multi-point attempts in the four-game series.

Of the game-winning goals in the series, Lehkonen scored two of them – including the series-winning goal in Game 4 overtime – while Cogliano and Compher also came through the clutch with game-winning goals.

Video: Toyota Game Recap: Barn Burner


BLUELINE CONTRIBUTIONS

Makar dominated Colorado’s Bluelines contributions with his nine-point (2G, 7A) streak in the series, highlighted by his five-point outing in Game 4. But the Avalanche also benefited from Toew’s five-point streak (1G, 4A), a goal Josh Mansona support from Bowen Byram and its plus five rating and a plus four rating from Erik Johnson.

@NHL Tweet: Cale Makar (@Cmakar8) felt it during the Western Conference Finals. 💪 #StanleyCupStar of the Series presented by @trulyseltzer pic.twitter.com/GnFSbziQEQ


SPECIAL TEAMS

The Avalanche finished the Western Conference Finals with a 4-for-16 win on the power play at 25.0% and converted twice for man advantage in Game 4. Makar led the team with three points (1G, 2A) on the power play while he, Rantanen, MacKinnon and Kadri all lit the man-advantage lamp.

On penalties, Colorado finished the series 9-11 with a PK% of 81.8%.


GOAL CLOSURE

Darcy Kumper made the start of Game 1 of the series but left the game in the second period at 7:19 due to an upper body injury and had previously made 13 saves. in his place Paul french took over and made 18 saves on 21 shots in relief, ending the streak.

Francouz ended the streak with four wins, 99 saves in 109 shots, a .908 SV%, a 2.81 GAA and a shutout.

A positive development for the Avalanche would be Kuemper supporting Francouz for Game 4 of the series.

Video: COL@EDM, Gm3: Francouz holds points even with a glove


NEXT MAN ON:

In addition to the fall of Kuemper and Francouz taking his place, Nazem Kadri suffered an upper body injury in his first shift of Game 3 and did not play the rest of the series and was returned to Denver for further evaluation.

In his place, Rantanen occupied the middle position for the Avalanche’s second line, running between Lehkonen and Andre Burakovsky.


DEFENSE DETAILS:

While Colorado certainly demonstrated its offensive prowess against the Oilers, perhaps even more impressive was the defensive detail and execution to prevent one of the highest-scoring offenses led by two of the highest-scoring producers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

After a barn burn in Game 1 of the WCF — which the Avs won 8-6 — Colorado shut out the Oilers 4-0 in Game 2 and kept them at a 3.25 gallon-per-game average. The Avalanche did their best to contain McDavid, who entered the series in 12 games with 26 points (7G, 19A) and finished the four games against Colorado with his seven points (3G, 4A) as team leader. Draisaitl totaled six assists in the series, posting four of those assists in Game 4.


Video: COL@EDM, Gm4: Lehkonen sends Avalanche into the cup final
LEHKONEN STRIKES TWICE:

For the second year in a row, Lehkonen scored the overtime goal to not only win the series but send his team to the Stanley Cup Finals, like the Finnish winger did in Game 4 in Colorado’s dramatic 6-5 OT thriller did and how he did it in Game 6 last season to send Montreal past Vegas.


Video: COL@EDM, Gm4: Avalanche accepts Clarence Campbell Bowl
STANLEY CUP FINALS 2022:

The Avalanche will continue to maximize that window of rest and return to training this week while awaiting the final score between the New York Rangers and the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions in the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are currently tied 2-2 in the finals of the Eastern Conference.

Regardless of eventual opponent, the Avalanche will have home field advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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