Pat Graham, Associated Press
Nathan McKinnon saw a team that couldn’t make it onto the rink at its usual speed. She couldn’t generate good chances to score and couldn’t set her own rhythm.
It was unusual.
“We were bad,” the Colorado Avalanche forward admitted after losing 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues to tie the series 1-1. It was very bad.”
The Blues did all the right things – from making changes to the lines to create more attack to locking down the center to frustrate the speed skaters in the avalanche.
Now it’s Avalanche’s turn to play high-pressure chess as the series moves to St. Louis for Game Three on Saturday.
There are nothing negatives left for the best team in the Western Conference. This includes line changes or player movements.
“You won’t win the playoffs if you don’t play your best hockey,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Friday. We weren’t even close to the best hockey game last night and that’s our fault. Our best hockey game has yet to be decided. We are always looking for the perfect match.”
First on the agenda: finding a way to create more wiggle room for McKinnon and defender Cal Makar. The Blues made it very difficult for them in the neutral zone of Game 2. McCar did not score a single point in the series, having scored three goals and seven assists against the Nashville Predators in the first round.
There is also a strange case involving Mikko Rantanen, who has led the team in points all season, but has not scored since the start of the playoffs (despite having seven assists).
“Do you think Mikko plays the best hockey game you’ve seen from him? We want him to be an impact player,” Bednar insisted.
The avalanche will likely move and bring things forward like Alex Newhook and Logan O’Connor.
It could also have McKinnon, Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog in the front row, but Bednar said he was pleased with Landeskog’s performance alongside Nazim Kadri and Arturi Lakonen. As for the atmosphere inside the team, the coach said that “the players are in high spirits.”
“They understand that it is mostly about us,” he added.
However, this doubt still hung above the heads of the avalanche. I’ve lost in the second round of playoffs for the past three years. Last year, he took a 2-0 lead over the Vegas Golden Knights before losing the next four games.
Blues goalkeeper Jordan Bennington shines against the Colorado team. After stopping 51 shots in a game 1 overtime loss, Binnington blocked 30 pucks on Thursday.
“He saved the ball when he needed to,” said Blues coach Craig Behrop.
The Avalanche’s job is to make sure he can’t detect the disc as he did in the first two games of the series.
“The goalkeepers are so good now that if they saw everything, they would stop the pucks,” Bednar said. It is very important to block the goalkeeper’s vision, even if it is a moving screen. We have to keep it hidden.”
It has a lot to do with the blues not letting Avalanche players skate as they liked on the ice. The Blues achieved what many couldn’t, which was to slow them down.
They will certainly not be disappointed to repeat this performance on their home soil.
For an avalanche, winning on the road begins by quickly silencing the crowd. They won both games in Nashville by scoring first.
“We have to go abroad and steal the game. McKinnon hoped we could fly two planes. We have to forget the second game, go ahead and get back to our way of playing.