Storylines Heading to Game 3: Oilers vs. Avalanche

As the Edmonton Oilers attempt to get back on their streak with the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night, there are a few storylines that could affect the outcome. The biggest include some roster changes for the Oilers, still no Darcy Kuemper for the Avs, the series moves to Edmonton, and more.

Still no Kuemper for Avalanche

In the second game in a row, the Oilers meet Colorado backup goaltender Pavel Francouz. Kuemper suffered an upper body injury in Game 1 and has yet to be cleared for one more game. The good news for the Avs is that Francouz hit a shutout behind a stingy Avs defense in Game 2 that effectively crippled the Oilers. The good news for the Oilers is that they know he’s beatable if they can generate offense since they scored three times against him in Game 1.

Oilers juggle roster, Kassian on top

According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers made some moves during practice today. Zack Kassian wore a white jersey, which usually means the player finishes in the top six. He was with Evander Kane and Connor McDavid. This is a very physical line that also has some skill and speed. Kassian has been hit or miss in these playoffs, but he has the ability to make the difference.

In the second row were Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. One thing to keep in mind is that Draisaitl was placed in a #2 center and that could change as the game progresses. There was no Kailer Yamamoto on the ice, meaning he probably won’t be playing for the Oilers tonight, and Devin Shore was inserted into the fourth row in practice.

Oilers have home ice

The Oilers have usually been very good at home, and in a near-win situation, Edmonton will need to feed on the energy of the fans to return to this series. Head coach Jay Woodcroft will have the final change, which should give him an opportunity to play the line match in his favor, and with Kassian at the helm, the Oilers appear to be looking to get fans involved early on.

Another key for the Oilers is not taking the fans out of the game, especially by allowing quick back-to-back goals or letting Colorado score immediately after an Oilers goal. Edmonton have a bad habit of losing focus for a minute or two at a time and they need to avoid that if they want to keep the crowd on their toes and on their side.

Keith and Smith spoke to the defense attorneys

Both Mike Smith and Duncan Keith showed some of their leadership in practice today by leading a long scrum with the Oilers’ blue line. These are two of the most experienced players and their leadership will be key to keeping the Defense Corps calm and focused.

Edmonton appear to be sticking with the 12 forwards and six defenders format, which means a lot of minutes for certain players, possibly Darnell Nurse, who has struggled this series and doesn’t appear to be 100%. Nurse wasn’t out on the ice for practice today so we’ll see how much he gets used.

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