Five things to know about the National Hockey League playoffs

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Kadri and Francouz have helped to put the Oilers into a 0-2 series hole and the Rangers are looking to go up 2-0 on the defending champs.

Here are five things to know as we head into Friday's post-season action:

WOODCROFT'S LINE SHUFFLING DOESN'T PAY OFF

The Edmonton Oilers trail their Western Conference final series with the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 after they got blanked 4-0 Thursday.

Perhaps in an effort to get more consistent offensive pressure from line to line, Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft decided to scramble his top-6 forwards, most notably splitting up the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

McDavid skated with Zach Hyman and Evander Kane, while Draisaitl lined up with Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto.

The move didn't work, however, as Colorado's second line dominated, led by Nazem Kadri's three assists.

Heading into Game 3, it'll be interesting to see if Woodcroft opts to stick with splitting up his superstars or look to pair them once again.

KADRI KOOKS KWICKLY

The Avalanche took Game 2 spurred on largely because of Kadri.

The Avalanche centre set up three goals all coming within a 2:04 span in the second period to put the Avs up 3-0 and, essentially, put the game to rest.

Kadri's been a consistent performer during these playoffs and his brilliance Thursday just appeared to be a microcosm of the kind of impact he has on Colorado.

FRANCOUZ DELIVERS IN RELIEF

The Avalanche were without starting goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was forced to miss the game with an upper-body injury, for Game 2.

No problem, however, as Pavel Francouz stopped all 24 shots he faced to record his first playoff shutout and continue a strong run he's been on since he entered the series after Kuemper was forced to exit midway through Game 1.

He's now stopped 42 of the 45 total shots he's faced so far this series.

It's unclear if Kuemper will be able to return for Game 3 in Edmonton or when at all through the rest of the series, but Francouz has filled in admirably in the meantime.

WILL LIGHTNING SHAKE OFF RUST?

After getting thumped 6-2 by the New York Rangers in the opener of their Eastern Conference Final Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning's long break appeared to be the cause for their lack of focus.

"Obviously, they were a little bit rusty tonight," Rangers coach Gerard Gallant told reporters after the game. "They weren't the same, being nine days off. It makes a difference."

Added Tampa coach Jon Cooper: "We might have gotten a little tired as the game went on. We hadn't played in a game in a while here."

The Blueshirts had the momentum of coming off a thrilling Game 7 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes before entering this conference final with the Bolts. Meanwhile, the Lightning were able to sweep the Florida Panthers in four games and were able to rest up and recover while awaiting their opponent.

In a debate of rest vs. rust, most would take the former. However, if Tampa still hasn't shaken that rust off entering Friday's Game 2 then conventional wisdom may have to be mulled over again.

RANGERS GETTING PRODUCTION FROM ALL OVER

The Rangers found success in Game 1 against the Lightning thanks to production from three of their four lines.

Of course, the top line found the back of the net with Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Frank Vatrano all scoring, and second-line stud Artemi Panarin adding another one, but it was really the heroics of third-line star Filip Chytil that won the day for the Blueshirts.

Chytil scored a pair of goals in the second period to break a 2-2 tie and give the Rangers the cushion they needed to break the game open.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are defined by its heroes, but no all of them are necessarily superstars.

During this post-season, Chytil has scored nearly as many goals (7) as he did in the 67 games he played in the regular season (8).

New York will be looking for more of the same from its unlikely post-season star in Game 2 Friday from Madison Square Garden.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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