Tonight, two of the hottest teams in the NHL will face off as the Edmonton Oilers visit Colorado to take on the Avalanche. In their last sixteen games each, both teams have collected fourteen wins and are still fighting for their respective division titles. Of the ten players in the league who have already surpassed 100 points this season, five will be on the ice tonight.
For the Oilers, it’s all systems go at the moment. Connor McDavid recently became the first player in over 25 years to reach 150 points in a season, and the group is feeding off his play. In the Pacific Division standings, Edmonton is currently two points behind Vegas after 80 games. However, they do have the tiebreaker, so ending with the same number of points would give them the edge over the Golden Knights. This difference is certainly an important one, as the team that wins the Pacific Division will probably end up as the top seed in the Western conference.
Goaltending has been an issue for this franchise in the past, but at the moment, Stuart Skinner is standing tall in the crease. In his last three games combined, he’s allowed just two goals on 87 shots.
The Avs haven’t been healthy all season, but they still find themselves in control of their own destiny when it comes to winning the Central Division. Much of that is thanks to the outstanding play of Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Both players have reached over 100 points on the campaign, and only Connor McDavid has scored more points-per-game than Mackinnon this year. Defensively, the team needs to fill a big hole with the loss of Cale Makar. He may not be out for the season, but with no timetable for return, defencemen like Devon Toews, Sam Girard and Bowen Byram need to be ready for some big minutes in the playoffs.
When it comes to the standings, the Avalanche are in a tight battle at the top of the Central. Coming into tonight’s game, they’re tied with Dallas at the top with a game in hand, while the Wild sit just two points back. Just like in the Pacific, the difference between first and second in this division will be massive. If they come out on top, the Avs will most likely have a first-round matchup with the Seattle Kraken. That’s definitely more appealing than facing off against Dallas or Minnesota.
In tonight’s rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, expect both teams to come out fast. Not only is there a lot on the line in terms of their divisional standings, but tonight is also an opportunity for one team to make a statement against another that they could see again late in the playoffs. Also, with the amount of skill on the ice out there between these teams, it’s just must-watch TV.
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