Colorado has dealt with its share of adversity throughout the playoffs, but nothing it hasn't been able to overcome.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Even with the Avalanche that are not going to have Nazim Kadri for the rest of this series, this Avalanche team has shown that, in spite of their starting goalie going through a nagging eye injury throughout the playoffs, one of their better mobile defensemen out for the playoffs with a sternum injury, and now they're in a position where they're hottest player out for the rest of the series, possibly beyond.
They are still one game away from the Stanley Cup Final because of the talent they still have at forward and at defense and the depth they have throughout. This is just a testament to how good this Colorado Avalanche team is. It's just that we kind of wanted to-- I think we all kind of--
You're right. We did expect the Avalanche would kind of win this series or at least take control of it. We just didn't expect it to happen this soon. And there's no way they're going to collapse on themselves and lose four straight, right?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: No. There's no way. I mean, and the conditions have been there for Edmonton to be in this series, to make it a series, to maybe have control of the series, as you mentioned with Kemper going out and then being out without Sam Girard-- even in game three, the conditions were right there for them with Connor McDavid scoring that early goal and even killing off that five-minute major.
But it just seems like no advantage handed to them could even up the playing field here. I mean, Colorado is just so far and away the superior team in pretty much every aspect of this. I mean, you mentioned Ryan MacLeod scoring that goal. I think it's an important benchmark, because it was so shocking. It was like, how did that even happen?
The Colorado Avalanche were so in control of that game. And it just came out of nowhere. And it wasn't a good goal. Pavel Francouz obviously should have had it. It never should have happened. It was literally dropped from the sky.
But that's the point. It just doesn't seem like the Colorado Avalanche are giving Edmonton anything. Edmonton can't establish its game. The Stars look disjointed. They probably shouldn't have been split. Maybe that's a conversation we can have, but it doesn't really matter.
I don't think there's any alignment that the Oilers could throw at the Avalanche that could even up this series. And it's crazy, because now they're going to be without Nazem Kadri. And I still have all the confidence in the world that it's not going to affect them. Losing Sam Girardi's a big thing, but guess what, you have Bowan Byron stepping up.
Losing Darcy Kemper, a big thing. Pavel Francouz has played well. Colorado's played really well around him as well. And then when Kadri goes out, guess who it is. It's that next guy, that next man up. It's that third line center, JT Comfer, who scores that big goal and will have to be big for the remainder of this series and beyond.
But it's just really, I think, a situation where one team is outclassing the other. They are just deeper. They are more well-rounded. They are not defined by two superstars. And with Leon Draisaitl clearly laboring a little bit, Darnell Nurse clearly laboring, Mike Smith battling and even playing well for Mike Smith-- but the problem is that he's not Andrei Vasilevskiy.
So his best, there's still going to be high jinks. There's still going to be mistakes made. There's cracks in the foundation, certainly, with Mike Smith. And he made some brilliant saves, but he also gave up goals that were just ridiculous and should never happen.
I mean, you mentioned-- you were giving him a little credit on to Darnell Nurse deflection. Why is he jumping at a puck? Just hold your crease. And when--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: He probably should have held down the post too.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Exactly, just make yourself big. He is incapable of making himself big. He gave the biggest five hole imaginable to JT Confer on that chance. He's a guy who's trying to make the save like he's out there playing road hockey, very reactionary, when the best goalies, the Shesterkins, the Vasilevskiys, they just play their position. They hold their position. They make themselves big.
That is not within Mike Smith's capabilities. He is playing well for Mike Smith, but it's not enough, because the Colorado Avalanche are out here getting 40 shots and protecting their goaltender. I think the shots in games two and three with Francouz in net are 83 to 53 for Colorado. I mean, they are just one of those teams that is figuring out how to be dominant in the postseason.
They protect their goaltenders. They play very well defensively, fine behind the puck, and scoring when they have their opportunities presented to them. They've really taken a step forward in terms of maturation. They are becoming Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay was this crazy talented team that outscored everyone. That didn't work. Then they started playing differently in the postseason. Colorado, crazy talented, didn't work in the postseason. Now they're playing differently. Nathan MacKinnon said it best. We wanted to be gross out there. All the aesthetics are gone from this series.
What we thought we knew about this series in game one, gone. It is gross. It's not eye-pleasing. But it's the Colorado Avalanche asserting themselves and dominating the Edmonton Oilers.