Stanley Cup Playoffs Discussion: May 31

The Western Conference Final starts tonight.

The third round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs kicks off Tuesday night with Game 1 of the Western Conference Final between the Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers. It’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl vs Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar is one of the biggest star showdowns in recent playoff history.

The Avalanche’s journey to this moment was light to start as they swept the Nashville Predators in round one, but they hit some adversity in the St. Louis Blues series and it took Colorado six games to dispense of St. Louis in the second round. The main issue in that second series is that Darcy Kuemper faltered in net. While the depth and power of Colorado’s roster overcame that, it’s something to watch out for as the Avs face the best hockey player in the world in McDavid.

The Oilers had almost the reverse experience: it took them seven wins against the LA Kings in round one with shaky goaltending being a major obstacle for Edmonton but then they defeated the Calgary Flames in just five games with the top players overpowering their fellow Canadian team offensively. Oilers fans are likely still uneasy with Mike Smith in net and the Avalanche have seemed like the team of destiny this year, but McDavid is putting up arguably the greatest playoff performance in decades and he’s absolutely the type of player that can single-handedly will his team to victory.

Tuesday, May 31

Game 1: Edmonton Oilers at Colorado Avalanche, 7 p.m. (TNT)

*All times Central