Colorado Avalanche defeat Edmonton Oilers to take Game 1 of Western Conference finals


Jared Bednar dared Connor McDavid to beat his finest gamers.
Picture: Getty Photographs

It’s important to hand it to Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. He does have among the finest checking facilities within the NHL at his disposal in Nazem Kadri. It will be straightforward, explicable, and defensible to only toss Kadri over the boards each time the Oilers put Connor McDavid on the market, and be executed with it. In spite of everything, it’s just about why the Avs acquired Kadri within the first place.

Nevertheless it takes some balls to say, “Nah, fuck that. Let’s kick this pig!”

Bednar matched his finest in opposition to the Oilers finest in Sport 1, pitting Nathan MacKinnon’s line in opposition to McDavid’s each time he may. Hockey doesn’t actually go for one-on-one matchups between a group’s two stars, given the vagaries of modifications on the fly and a group’s standard indifference to matching up in the course of the common season. And even when it does, the game’s tradition doesn’t wish to give attention to it (which is why you get Eddie Olczyk mentioning Pat Maroon after any promo involving the Lightning). However this was the uncommon event when the league did get two of its premier stars eyeballing one another for 1 / 4 of the sport. And boy, was it a deal with. And Bednar was rewarded with an 8-6 win.

Bednar isn’t the primary, in fact. The Flames and Daryl Sutter tried the identical with their prime line, however watched as McDavid and Leon Draisaitl skated previous them at each alternative and easily tore the injured — and never all that spectacular to start with — Calgary protection into chum. The Avalanche are much better outfitted on the blue line although, and maybe have the one pairing the place each D-men can sustain with McDavid speed-wise in Cale Makar and Devon Toews. They had been on the ice for nearly all of McDavid’s shifts.

The idea should’ve been that MacKinnon has the velocity to catch McDavid on the backcheck if he has to, and extra to the purpose, would hold McDavid and his cohorts enjoying protection. And that Makar and Toews may skate themselves out of the deep finish with out offering McDavid and Draisaitl the turnovers that they’ve feasted on.

Which all of them did. The Avs had 57 % of the makes an attempt when MacKinnon was on the ice, largely in opposition to No. 97. Toews and Makar did even higher, with rousing benefits within the Corsi and anticipated objectives rely whereas solely dealing with Edmonton’s finest.

And the distinction got here right down to not solely the Avs and Oilers’ prime strains just about battling to a standstill, however Toews and Makar combining for one aim and 5 assists, whereas the Edmonton blue line solely managed three assists.

This could have been a blowout if Avs defenseman Josh Manson didn’t see what it was wish to spin round a baseball bat earlier than each shift he had within the first two intervals. He was culpable for the Oilers’ first three objectives. Mixed with Darcy Kuemper’s waywardness, both as a consequence of damage or simply his pure state, it saved the Oilers round. However Mike Smith was no higher for the Oilers, and neither beginning goalie noticed the top of the 2nd interval.

Whereas McDavid and Draisaitl can overcome loads, they’re going to seek out it exhausting to struggle off all of the Avs’ weapons firing from each angle. There are too many forwards who can rating, and once they don’t, the Oilers are additionally going to must hold Toews and Makar on a leash, which nobody else has been in a position to handle. Maybe that can change when the collection shifts to Edmonton and Jay Woodcroft can ship out McDavid in opposition to different defensemen, however then he’ll be relying on his lesser forwards to look at over the Avs’ dynamic prime pairing.

It ought to make for wonderful tv, and god bless Bednar for enjoying with all of his toys. What’s the purpose of being wealthy in velocity and ability if you happen to’re not going to push the pedal to the ground?


In fact, whereas the evening noticed hockey showcase how thrilling it may be, the day confirmed how fucked up the tradition is. The USHL, the nation’s prime junior league, noticed its GMs vote Mitchell Miller their participant of the yr. If that title sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of he’s the fuckstick that was drafted by the Coyotes that they eventually had to renounce when it became public how Miller had bullied a disabled classmate.

Whether or not Miller was one of the best participant within the league or not, it’s not precisely a fantastic look to be holding this shitbird up as some form of paragon of your league, wherever and no matter degree it’s. Nevertheless it’s unlikely the GMs of stated league care, in the event that they even bear in mind why Miller is in that league within the first place.

Hockey has by no means been in a position to take a couple of step ahead with out stepping on a rake. 

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