The final two teams out west accomplished what many analysts and fans doubted: getting past the second round of the playoffs. There’s excitement over a Connor McDavid v. Nathan MacKinnon conference finals. Both are top skill players who score and accumulate points in any possible ways. Yet both teams are inexperienced this far in the postseason. It’s time to break down which team has the best shot of advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.
#5 Edmonton Oilers v. #1 Colorado Avalanche
On paper there are many similarities between the Oilers and Avalanche that propelled both teams to the conference finals. Their starting goaltenders at one time played for Arizona, they score a lot of goals, they’re menacing on the power-play, they’re have great first lines, and both added veteran experience at the trade deadline.
On film Colorado’s the superior team. The Avalanche’s depth strengthens on the third line where J.T. Compher, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Andre Burakovsky flip games and score in needed times. Even the third line defensive pairing of Jack Johnson and Josh Manson can outplay and scrap better than Edmonton’s third line of Tyson Barrie and Brett Kulak.
The deciding factor is fluidity. The Avalanche can be a speedy, high-octane offense or play gritty and punishing. The Oilers aren’t at the dual threat stage yet, but Edmonton’s fans and spectators can be happy the team’s finally in the desired direction.
Prediction: Avalanche wins series 4-1
Western conference playoff predictions: 2-4