Let’s play some hockey again. When the puck drops tonight at Ball Arena, it’ll be the first Western Conference finals game in this town in 20 years, when the Detroit Red Wings were in town. Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers this time. 6 p.m. start tonight, on TNT (Wayne Gretzky and the rest of the crew will be broadcasting live, from Ball Arena).
As for the Avs’ lineup tonight, it’s looking like Andre Burakovsky stays in and Alex Newhook stays out. In other words, the same lineup as Game 6 in St. Louis. I think that makes the most sense, though it’s a tough break for Newhook. But that’s how deep this team is.
NOTES, THOUGHTS, ETC.
- The perspective from Edmonton (Edmonton Journal)
- Avs fans should be ready to see Oilers goalie Mike Smith play the puck, a LOT. The veteran netminder can really handle the puck well, on his forehand and backhand. That saves a lot of wear and tear for his D-men. One thing that really hurt the Blues last series was losing the puck-handling abilities of Jordan Binnington. Ville Husso could only play pucks on his forehand, and the Avs were able to devise a forechecking scheme that took advantage of that. Smith makes any forechecking schemes harder.
- “We’ve got to be very aware of that,” Jared Bednar said this morning, about Smith’s puck-handling skills. “We have a plan to forecheck, to keep it away from him, and a plan to forecheck if it goes to him. I’m not going to go into details.”
- Avs are -185 favorites to win tonight, at SuperBook Colorado.
- Avs are -250 to win the series.
- Said Mikko Rantanen, who has just one goal in the playoffs: “I think it’s going in the right directions. Hasn’t been going in, but as I’ve said a million times before, it’s a team game. It’s the wrong time of the year to think about your personal stuff.”
- Said Josh Manson, on the challenge of facing the Oilers: “Obviously, they’re very fast. We have to limit our turnovers. We have to possess pucks, throw pucks at the net and go to the net hard.”
- This is the third playoff series with the Oilers in Colorado Avalanche history. Avs won in 1997, Oilers won in 1998.
- Thanks to the following people for contributing to the Avs Travel Tip Jar last few days: Myles Edwards, Greg Hunter, Matthew Getzelman, Joey Suyeishi, Christopher Glaser and Curt Werner. The Tip Jar is always open – link here. Tomorrow, I am making a good-sized donation to the Thornton Food Bank with the 5% I set aside from every dollar donated. You’re helping feed hungry people, so thanks. I will add on with a matching donation of my own.
Terry Frei contributed to this report