The Western and Eastern Conference Finals are well underway and have definitely raised some eyebrows thus far relative to expectations. This Weekly Lost & Found will reflect on the now-eliminated Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers as the “Lost” teams. It will then focus on the Colorado Avalanche as the “Found” team.
Just a couple of awards notes before we begin; Carey Price won the Bill Masterton Trophy and Darryl Sutter the Jack Adams. Anze Kopitar took home the Messier Leadership Award while Patrice Bergeron won a record-breaking fifth Frank J. Selke Trophy. Finally, Noel Acton won the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award for his work helping at-risk youth in the Maryland area with the Tender Bridge Foundation. Congratulations to the award recipients! With that, let’s get started.
Lost: Carolina Hurricanes Eliminated, Edmonton Oilers Must Win-out
While the Hurricanes have already started their offseason, the Oilers hope to dig deep and find a way to come back in the Western Conference Final.
Hurricanes Sent Packing After Game 7 Loss
The Hurricanes saw the home team win in each of their first 13 playoff games, but that streak was snapped by the New York Rangers Game 7 victory in Raleigh. After dominating the Rangers in Game 5, they had no answers in Games 6 and 7. They were outscored 11-4 and the Rangers scored on half of their power play chances.
After scoring eight points with a plus-6 rating in seven games against the Boston Bruins, the polarizing Tony DeAngelo mustered just two assists and was a minus-6 against the Rangers. Andrei Svechnikov set career-highs with 30 goals, 39 assists and 69 points during the regular season, but mustered a lone goal in that series. He finished the postseason with just four goals and five points in 14 games.
It was a series that heavily featured goaltending. Antti Raanta allowed just 13 goals in seven games with a shutout and a .917 save percentage (SV%) in a losing effort. On the winning side, Igor Shesterkin allowed 12 goals in seven games with a .949 SV%.
Special teams were something that doomed the Hurricanes. Despite having the best penalty kill during the regular season at 88 percent, they killed just 74 percent in the postseason, as the Rangers scored on 7-of-21 of their power plays during the matchup. On the flip side, the Rangers’ penalty kill allowed just two goals and killed 88.8 percent. It severely hurt the Hurricanes, as they finished the postseason with a 13 percent power-play percentage (PP%).
Related: 4 Takeaways From Carolina Hurricanes 2021-22 Season
They’ll have some interesting decisions to make this offseason. After a 10-goal, 51-point regular season at an extremely discounted cap hit, DeAngelo is a restricted free agent (RFA). Additionally, head coach Rod Brind’Amour knows he has great players, but made a call for adding elite goal-scoring talent. Despite not always throwing the wallet at a player, it’ll be interesting to see if they make a splash this offseason.
Oilers Pushed to the Brink
The Oilers may have scored eight goals in three games thus far in the Western Conference Final, but have been unable to contain the Avalanche’s offense and trail 3-0 in the series. They’ve allowed 16 goals in those three games, thus being outscored by double overall.
Oilers goaltender Mike Smith is being absolutely peppered with shots. They’ve allowed 130 shots while tallying just 90. That works out to 43.3 shots against per game (SA/GP) and 30 shots-for per game (SF/GP). Smith was pulled in Game 1, holds a .879 SV% and has allowed 13 goals this series.
Both Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar have four points this series for the Avalanche, while Pavel Francouz has played well in two games since Darcy Kuemper went down with an injury. Connor McDavid has four points and is a minus-5, while Leon Draisaitl has just two points, held scoreless in both Game 2 and 3, and is a minus-4 for the Oilers.
If they have any chance at the reverse sweep, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, they’ll need more from their secondary offensive pieces. Evander Kane came into the series with 12 goals and 15 points in 12 games and has just a goal and an assist this series. While McDavid and Draisaitl have played like men possessed up to this point, the Oilers are finished if they continue to be the only two who contribute. Honestly, that is pretty much a theme for the team at this point.
Found: Avalanche Look to Close Out Western Conference Final
I touched upon the Avalanche when discussing the Oilers, but an interesting aspect of the series is how most of their scoring is coming at even strength. They’ve had 14 power plays through three games, but have only scored two power-play goals. They even won Game 3 despite having a dismal 38.8 Corsi-for percentage (CF%).
Francouz is displaying why it’s so important to have a solid 1B or backup goaltender in today’s NHL. He’s played five games this postseason and won all of them, having allowed 10 goals with a .920 SV% and a shutout. Against Edmonton alone, he is 3-0 with five goals against, a .932 SV%, and his lone shutout.
Bowen Byram, picked fourth-overall in 2019, has battled injury thus far in his short NHL career. The 20-year-old has seven points in 13 playoff games. During the regular season, Nazem Kadri enjoyed a career year and finished with 59 assists and 87 points in 71 games. He jumped into the playoffs and scored 14 points in 13 games before getting injured; an injury which will cost him the rest of the Western Conference Final.
Just a side note, there’s a lot of talk on social media of this injury being “karma” based on Kadri’s disciplinary history. My thoughts on it lie similar to TSN and BarDown content creator Luca Celebre. Full disclosure, he is an Avalanche fan, but in my opinion, this stance goes past any sort of team allegiances. I’ll leave it below.
It doesn’t matter who you root for; these athletes are people just like you and me. It’s egregious to wish harm on anyone over a sport played for our entertainment.
Related: Avalanche’s Newhook Must Step Up After Kadri Injury
The Avalanche look to close things out and complete their second sweep of the postseason on June 6 in Edmonton. The Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning will be going to at least five games in the Eastern Conference Final, as that series is currently 2-1 in favor of the Rangers.
As always, stick with the incredible team at The Hockey Writers for all your playoff coverage. Don’t forget, they also cover the rapidly approaching NHL Entry Draft and more!