DENVER • If the brand of hockey played between the Avalanche and the Oilers is closer to that of a video game than traditional sport, the turbo button wears out in the Western Conference Finals.
A day after an 8-6 win over the Oilers in Game 1, Avalanche forward Logan O’Connor said the pace of play was as high or higher than anything he had known.
“Yeah, that’s probably there for the fastest I’ve been on. We like to play a fast game, and they have fast players on their team as well,” O’Connor said Wednesday. “A lot of times throughout the year we feel like our speed can get the better of games, and I think you saw last night that both teams with their structure and the players on the ice that, you know, both teams have the ability to use their quickness, their speed and their skating.
“It’s something unique for both of our teams.”
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For Edmonton, the speed starts with Connor McDavid. The Oilers captain won the fastest skater competition at All-Star festivities for three straight 2017-19 seasons. Nathan MacKinnon of Colorado finished fifth in the 2020 event. Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano is another former event winner in 2009. All that speed can make mistakes even more costly, like the ‘ indicates the score of match 1.
“The transition can be so quick in both directions. You have to be in tune,” said Alex Newhook. “You must be connected, because one game error and the guys fly the other way. On both sides, we can all skate.
O’Connor said getting over the puck and preventing Edmonton’s transition opportunities will remain priorities as the series progresses.
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“They get everyone in the mood pretty quickly,” O’Connor said. “If you hesitate 200 feet from your net, they’re going to put guys above you, and that’s how they can create a lot of chances.”
NHL 22, the league’s Players Association licensed video game, gave McDavid a slight speed advantage. His 96 rating tops all players in this year’s edition, but MacKinnon’s 94 speed rating and Cale Makar’s 93 speed rating are tied for second and third on the list, respectively. All three had multipoint matches in the series opener.
With a few tweaks heading into Game 2, coach Jared Bednar hopes the Avalanche can keep McDavid and the Oilers from setting up video game numbers in the rest of the series.
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“Every time you give up a chance to score there’s a mistake. It’s really that simple. Even elite players, they’re going to create when you do everything a little bit well, but not to the level that we gave up last night.
“I watch our game, I loved everything we did offensively. I think there’s a lot of really good things there – work ethic, competitiveness, puck play, good puck management in a lot of different areas on the offensive end. , there are some things we need to improve,” Bednar said.
“I would expect it to get tighter, because I’m sure they feel the same way. You won’t win a lot of playoff games if you drop six or seven.”