3 Keys: Coyotes vs. Avalanche, Game 2 of Western First Round


No. 7 Coyotes vs. No. 2 Avalanche

2 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, ALT, FS-A, FS-A PLUS

Colorado leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

Philipp Grubauer is expected to start for the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Friday.

Grubauer made 14 saves in a 3-0 win in Game 1 on Wednesday in Edmonton, the West hub city. Teams that win Game 1 are 478-219 (68.6 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. 

Darcy Kuemper will start for Arizona after saving 37 of 40 shots in Game 1.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve always bounced back after a subpar performance, we really have, so I’m looking for that trend,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said.

Here are 3 keys for Game 2:


1. More offense from Arizona

The Coyotes need to take some pressure off Kuemper, who has faced an average of 40.6 shots in five postseason games. They were outshot 40-14 on Wednesday, 28-7 in the first two periods. The top line of Taylor Hall, Christian Dvorak and Phil Kessel combined for three shots on goal.

“We had a good meeting [Thursday] about how we have to play,” Hall said. “It’s not just that we want to go out and get more scoring chances, it’s really what leads to it. Can we be more in their face? Can we pressure them in the neutral zone to force turnovers? Can we limit the time spent in our end? Can we force them to play on their heels a little bit? If we can just play with more pressure, make more plays, be comfortable with the puck, hopefully (we) gain some territory just a little bit better than we did.”


2. Colorado plays defense too

Much has been made of Colorado’s high-powered offense, but its defense has been solid. The Avalanche have permitted four goals (not counting a shootout goal) in four playoff games with two shutouts.

“It’s hard work and commitment,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I believe our guys know what we’re trying to do on the defensive side from a tactical standpoint, from a structural standpoint. Some nights we’re better than others. It’s about having your legs and using your legs to check, putting teams under pressure. When we are on our toes and playing that way on the defensive side of it, then we’re a good checking team.” 


3. Special teams

The Avalanche went 1-for-2 on the power play in Game 1 and are 5-for-18 (27.7 percent) in four postseason games. They were 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and 10-for-12 (83.3 percent) in the postseason. The Coyotes are 2-for-14 (14.2 percent) on power plays in five games and 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) killing penalties. 

“I think we just need to shoot more,” Hall said of the power play. “Having a shot mentality helps any power play. If we can in the least get momentum by shooting and having some chances that way, that’ll help our team, but we can’t be a drag to our overall team play.”


Coyotes projected lineup

Taylor HallChristian DvorakPhil Kessel

Clayton KellerDerek StepanConor Garland

Lawson CrouseCarl SoderbergChristian Fischer

Michael GrabnerBrad RichardsonVinnie Hinostroza

Oliver Ekman-LarssonJason Demers

Alex GoligoskiNiklas Hjalmarsson

Jakob ChychrunJordan Oesterle

Darcy Kuemper

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Brayden Burke, Kyle Capobianco, Michael Chaput, Adin Hill, Hudson Fasching, Jordan Gross, Barrett Hayton, Ilya Lyubushkin, Aaron Ness, Victor Soderstrom

Unfit to play: Nick Schmaltz


Avalanche projected lineup

Vladislav NamestnikovNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen

Gabriel LandeskogNazem KadriValeri Nichushkin

Andre BurakovskyJ.T. CompherJoonas Donskoi

Matt NietoPierre-Edouard BellemareMatt Calvert

Ryan GravesCale Makar

Samuel GirardErik Johnson

Ian ColeNikita Zadorov

Philipp Grubauer

Pavel Francouz

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Shane Bowers, Bowen Byram, Kevin Connauton, Sheldon Dries, Michael Hutchinson, Tyson Jost, Anton Lindholm, Logan O’Connor, Conor Timmins, T.J. Tynan

Unfit to play: Colin Wilson

Status report

Tocchet said Raanta practiced Thursday and might dress as Kuemper’s backup. He hasn’t been available since leaving after the first period against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Cup Qualifiers. … Tocchet said Schmaltz practiced but his status “is up in the air again.” Schmaltz, a forward, was injured in an exhibition game against the Vegas Golden Knights on July 30.

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