McDavid makes debut in Colorado with Oilers
The Colorado Avalanche have seen Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid, but their fans haven't.
A shoulder injury kept him out of both games in Denver in his rookie campaign last season, but he'll be on the ice Wednesday when the Oilers take on Colorado.
The Oilers are coming off a convincing win against Chicago on Monday, beating the Blackhawks 5-0. It was a much-needed win for Edmonton, which has now won two straight after five-game losing streak. It was also a confident boost to beat a good team.
“That's a big win for us,” McDavid told The Edmonton Sun. “They've been hot and gotten points in their last 10 or something ridiculous. They've been playing really well and for us to get a win like that is definitely big for the confidence moving forward.”
The Oilers (11-8-1) are facing a Colorado team that is starting to gain traction after an uneven start to the season. The Avalanche (9-9-0) began November losing four of their first five games and scored only eight goals in that stretch. The goaltending was inconsistent, and there was speculation that backup Calvin Pickard could push Semyon Varlamov as the No. 1 netminder.
Varlamov has answered with some strong games. He had 44 saves in a 2-0 loss to Boston and Monday he stopped 40 in Colorado's 3-2 overtime win in Columbus.
He will be in net against Edmonton.
The Avalanche were boosted Monday with the return of leading scorer Matt Duchene. Duchene had missed four games with concussion-like symptoms and his return to the lineup was timely. He got the game winner 1:49 into the overtime after the Blue Jackets had tied it with 6.5 seconds left in regulation.
Duchene's return was needed because Colorado is playing without captain Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog missed the entire three-game road trip with a lower-body injury and won't play against Edmonton.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Landeskog would skate Wednesday morning if the training staff clears him to be on the ice but he wouldn't play Wednesday night.
“He's starting to feel better, so hopefully he's a player for us in the near future,” Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com.
Colorado will try to stop the Pacific Division-leading Oilers after their two wins win which McDavid has been a catalyst. He ended a 10-game goal drought with his first career hat trick in a win over Dallas on Saturday and added two assists against Chicago.
Defenseman Oscar Klefbom had a goal for the third straight game after going 27 games without one.
“I was almost a little frustrated after 10, 11, 12 games,” he told The Edmonton Sun. “I was hitting some posts and not getting the bounces some games. But I'm really happy with (Monday).”
The Oilers are looking to spoil the start of a five-game homestand for Colorado. The Avalanche have struggled at home, but their 2-1 record on their just-completed road trip could be a sign they are figuring things out under Bednar, who is in his first year behind the Colorado bench.
They've also started getting production from the defensive corps with a goal from Tyson Barrie on Monday and a recent surge in offense from Erik Johnson.
“Obviously, Barrie and Johnson, those two guys can help us coming out of our zone,” Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com. “They've stepped up and got big goals from us.”