The 2022 Stanley Cup Finals are one of the crucial fascinating in current reminiscence. It won’t be the Avalanche vs. Rangers dream that New Yorkers hoped for, however this cup is a superb interaction of the brand new college and old fashioned, weaved collectively in actually surprising methods.
Can the Avalanche lastly break via after a protracted drought, or will the Lightning win their third-straight Stanley Cup?
Colorado has waited a very long time to return to prominence. It’s been over 20 years for the reason that Avalanche had been within the Stanley Cup Finals, successful all of it in 2001 with Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic — 5 Corridor of Famers who outlined the sport throughout their careers. From that time, it’s principally been disappointment for the franchise. Getting bounced early within the playoffs, underachieving after huge expectations — each glimmer of hope was met with disappointment, unable to interrupt via the west and get again to the promised land.
All that modified this season. All the things got here collectively for a league-best 56-19-7 report. Colorado’s astonishing younger gamers Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon had been joined with the breakout of defender Cale Makar. Makar’s 86 factors this season, and beautiful playoffs is already placing him in lofty firm — with Wayne Gretzky evaluating the 23-year-old to Bobby Orr.
There isn’t any doubt that relating to the hearts and minds of the nation, the Avalanche are the group everybody desires to win. Their old-school pedigree, married with plucky youth makes Colorado immensely compelling — however getting previous the Lightning in a sequence is like climbing a mountain.
Historical past will not be on Tampa Bay’s aspect relating to cultivating an old style fanbase. The group solely joined the NHL is 1992, and there stays innate dislike of heat local weather groups in hockey. Any of these misgivings has to cede to the truth that no person has has success just like the Lightning.
With a mean age of 29.55, the Lightning are the second-oldest group within the league this season — led by Steven Stamkos and Tampa Bay’s world-beaters. There’s not a lot that must be stated in regards to the exploits of this group, however this season their expertise actually paid off. In a daily season marketing campaign that noticed cracks beginning to seem within the growing old lineup, however when it mattered the management stepped up, beating the Maple Leafs, Panthers and Rangers in three grueling sequence that required the group to win on the street to get them thus far.
Stanley Cup Finals schedule
Sport 1: Wednesday, June 15: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
Sport 2: Saturday, June 18: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
Sport 3: Monday, June 20: 8 p.m. Colorado at Tampa Bay
Sport 4: Wednesday, June 22: 8 p.m. Colorado at Tampa Bay
*Sport 5: Friday, June 24: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
*Sport 6: Sunday, June 26: 8 p.m. Colorado at Tampa Bay
*Sport 7: Tuesday, June 28: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
* If needed
Head-to-head this season
The Avalanche and Lightning met twice throughout the common season, with Colorado successful 2-0, whereas Tampa Bay had been 0-1-1. In these video games that they had a slender 7-5 objective margin, which factors to this sequence being extremely shut.
What’s going to resolve this sequence?
For the Avalanche it actually comes down to 3 main components:
- Taking part in as much as their potential
- Not getting inside their very own heads
- Having goaltending step up
While you take a look at complete group depth and expertise, Colorado has the sting. Nevertheless, that is youthful expertise who aren’t used to taking part in on this stage. Paired with that’s the lure of beginning this sequence after 9 days of relaxation, an element of the Avalanche eliminating the Oilers so shortly.
The error is to typically assume that relaxation is a boon, however for a younger group is could cause gamers to lose focus. Particularly when you’ve gotten a metropolis and a fanbase who’ve been ready twenty years for this second. That results in loads of stress, and will see the group get out of the gate slower than anticipated.
That is compounded by the less-than-stellar goaltending the group has had this season. Neither Darcy Kuemper (who’s nursing an damage) or Pavel Francouz have been partitions this yr, rating twenty first and twenty second respectively in GAA. With the Avalanche’s glorious defenders this has been adequate, however the lightning are a significant take a look at to the gamers between the pipes.
In the meantime for the Lightning this sequence comes all the way down to:
- Not being too worn out
- Having the depth to maintain up
- Having the ability to plan for Cale Makar
It’s been a grueling playoffs for the Lightning who didn’t actually get a straightforward out past beating the Panthers. They’ve actually needed to struggle to get thus far, taking part in 17 playoff video games previous to the Stanley Cup Finals, and coming off a six recreation sequence towards the Rangers.
Most would agree than relating to top-end expertise the Lightning have the sting on this sequence, but it surely’s once we get to the later strains that issues look extra shaky. The growing old Tampa Bay depth might want to content material with far youthful opponents, and hope their legs can sustain.
Lastly, the group has to comprise Makar, whose offensive abilities are so prolific it’s like having a fourth ahead on the ice for the Avalanche. Makar grew to become the primary defender in NHL historical past to register 5 factors in a series-clinching recreation towards the Oilers, and his means to make use of his imaginative and prescient and passing prowess to arrange his teammates makes him the final word x-factor on this sequence.
It’s extraordinarily nerve wracking to wager towards Tampa Bay relating to the Stanley Cup Finals, and anybody doubting them ought to accomplish that at their peril. Nevertheless, when it’s all stated and achieved I imagine the Colorado Avalanche will win the Stanley Cup in a grueling seven recreation sequence that sees the house group hoist the trophy in entrance of their rabid followers.