The NHL's Western Conference Finals between the offensively stellar Oilers and Avalanche was expected to be high scoring, but Colorado's 8-6 home victory in Game 1 was the highest-scoring conference finals game in 37 years and 10th-highest-scoring postseason game ever. While a few books out there have set an astronomical total of 7.5 goals for Thursday's Game 2, Caesars Sportsbook still has it at 7. That could change, though, if each side has a new starting goaltender – which is quite possible.
Edmonton 40-year-old goalie Mike Smith doesn't like Game 1's, apparently. In the previous round vs. Calgary, he allowed three goals in roughly the first six minutes of the game and was pulled – the Oilers lost that 9-6. On Tuesday, Smith was yanked approximately six minutes into the second period after allowing six goals on 25 shots. Backup Mikko Koskinen was much better with 20 saves on 21 shots as the Oilers nearly came all the way back from down 7-3.
Who will start Thursday? This writer's guess would be Smith, simply because he's started every game in these playoffs and Koskinen has a 0-2-0 record with a 4.02 GAA and .897 save percentage in three postseason relief appearances. However, Coach Jay Woodcroft said he wouldn't decide until sometime Thursday. Smith wasn't exactly great in the Game 5 clincher against Calgary, allowing four goals. He's 8-3 this postseason with a 3.12 GAA and .917 SV.
Smith became the 10th goaltender in NHL history to make an appearance in the final four of the Stanley Cup playoffs at age 40 or older. The last was New Jersey's Martin Brodeur in 2012, when he led the Devils to a conference final win over the Rangers before losing to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar might not have a choice in who starts for him as No. 1 Darcy Kuemper was late returning to the ice when the second period began Tuesday, and then left for good at the first TV timeout due to an upper-body injury. He finished with 13 saves on 16 shots and backup Pavel Francouz allowed three goals on 21 shots.
Bednar wouldn't address what Kuemper's injury was – NHL teams never say. He is 6-2 in these playoffs with a 2.65 GAA and .897 SV, while Francouz is 3-0 with a 3.59 GAA and .889 SV. Francouz started the final two games of Round 1 vs. Nashville while Kuemper dealt with an eye injury.
Colorado is -180 at Caesars for Game 2 with Edmonton +155. On the updated series line, the Avalanche are -425 and the Oilers +340. When leading 1-0 in best-of-seven all-time, the Avalanche are 20-11 (.645) overall and 15-7 (.681) when starting at home. When trailing 0-1 in a best-of-seven all-time, the Oilers are 11-12 (.478) overall and 6-8 (.429) when starting on the road.
An Oilers franchise record could be set Thursday as Zach Hyman has tied Esa Tikkanen in 1990 with a six-game goals-scoring streak in a single postseason. Hyman is +200 to score a goal Thursday. Connor McDavid is the +114 overall favorite, and you rarely see prices that low. He has a two-game goal scoring streak and leads the NHL with 29 playoff points.
Which 2022 Fantasy Football sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Join SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Jonathan Taylor's huge season, and find out.