Kal Makar walks into Avalanche Western Conference finals as top player: ‘It’s very dynamic’

Edmonton – Avalanche coach Jared Bednar reiterated during the playoffs his belief that his team “will need everyone” if they are to win the championship. Those words sound real now that Colorado heads into the Stanley Cup Final. Bednar played 21 skaters in the first three rounds, started in different goalkeepers and wore a third uniform.

“It’s a battle of attrition,” Bednar said after she swept into Edmonton on Monday night. “No one makes it through without experiencing a combination of ups and downs, curves and flows into the sequence, injuries, and facing adversity, and it seems that teams that get past that level are usually the best standing out at the end, or at least making it to the finals.”

And while it was certainly a team effort, Colorado needed to count on a few players in particular to beat the Oilers. Let’s take a look at their top five players in the series.

5. Artturi Lehkonen

If you score the winner of an overtime game in a closed game, you will automatically be awarded a place in the top player list. But Lehkonen was more than just an instant wonder. He had six points in the series, and both of his goals were big. Combined with the overtime tally, Nazem Qadri’s shot was sent to the first goal of the avalanche in the second game. Colorado generated more five-on-five scoring chances than he allowed when he was on the ice and had a 60.55 percent expected goal share. , according to Natural Stat Trick. Joe Sakic gave up one of the organization’s best defenders in Justin Barron to get it, and it was well worth the price.

“Everyone knows how good he is, how resilient he is,” said Mikko Rantanen, who knew Lykonn grew up close to each other in Finland. “He checks, defends hard, kills penalty kicks, plays on power of play, scores big goals, goes into tough areas. What else can you ask of a player, which is commercial possession? … He showed why we gave him so much. “.

4. Pavel Francos

The netminder streak stats aren’t amazing – he had 0.908 saves and 17 fewer goals than expected, per Evolution-Hockey – but he came when avalanche needed him. Darcy Comber left Game One with an upper body injury, and a source said he was dealing with vision issues. Francoz proceeded to win the next four contests and the series, keeping calm throughout.

“It’s just a work-like approach and worry about what’s in front of you, not what’s behind you,” Bednar said. “He was basically like that through the series and he couldn’t have risen at a better time.”

Francoz allowed five goals in Game 4, of which he would have liked to reclaim a few, but was excellent in the two middle games, locking him in in the second game. McLeod In Game 3, recover by stealing Conor McDavid from the Force Play target. After the fourth game, Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland was greeted with a smile and a handshake as he emerged victorious from the ice.

Kuemper has dressed up for Game 4, and Francouz’s superb display in the competition could see Bednar return to the goalkeeper he’s used as his starter for most of the year. But even if Franco was in the Stanley Cup Final, his role in the avalanche there should not be overlooked.

3. Miku Rantanin

Rantanen didn’t look like his normal self during the first two rounds, failing to score a net non-blank goal. That changed against Edmonton. He’s scored in every competition, including a late-game 4 go-ahead goal, and his only null score of the series has earned him a well deserved one. Late in the third game, he showed his defensive acumen, taking pucks out of the Oilers’ attacking area, and finally blocking a pass and scoring into a cleared Edmonton net.

How did he fight a battle with his passive stretch?

“I think stick to it when you’re not recording,” he said. “Try to do other things that help the team win. That is the most important thing for everyone.”

The goals came in Edmonton’s goal, and Rantanen played a big role and carried the second line after Nazim Qadri suffered a thumb injury. Avalanche earned 61.52 percent of the projected goal share while on the ice in fives and fives, and finished with six points in the series.

2. Nathan McKinnon

It wasn’t perfect, but it was very good. He had three goals and five points in four games, playing largely against McDavid. Bednar praised defensive play for his position throughout the series, saying he may not have had enough credit.

“I look at Nate and see a guy who is totally committed to winning,” Bednar said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s the guy who got the score sheet or not, he hasn’t cheated once in this series yet.”

McKinnon scored one of the series’ biggest goals with his late game 4 score to 4-4, and had a notable reel goal in Game 1 when he enlarged the Oilers defense, creating a partial break for himself. He twice played over 12 minutes of doubles power against McDavid in a match, and the avalanche created more five-on-five chances to score with him on the ice than he allowed. He has been the driving force in the avalanche and has reached new heights after falling in the second round for the past three years.

“You have to walk the finish line a few times sometimes before you cross it, and I think that was true for us,” McKinnon said. “The job isn’t done, it’s going to be another tough series, but we’ll get some rest here and get ready to go.”

1. Cal Makar

who else? Wayne Gretzky said on TNT that star Avalanche defenseman was the best on-ice player in every game in the series. He and partner Devon Toyews fought off McDavid as he hoped in an avalanche, showing that he’s strong defensively, not just an offensive force. And the crime was there, too. He led the series with nine points and earned an avalanche on the scoresheet with an early goal in Game Five. As Eric Johnson said, Avalanche players are observing the greatness in their teammate.

“I think words are running out for her,” Johnson said. “He’s very dynamic, game-breaker, killing penalty kicks, and controlling both ends of the ice.”

If Avalanche wins the Stanley Cup, McCar has positioned himself as a potential bid for Cosmos Smith, and is a few levels ahead of him.

(Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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