The 2022 Stanley Cup Finals are one of the vital fascinating in latest reminiscence. It won’t be the Avalanche vs. Rangers dream that New Yorkers hoped for, however this cup is an excellent interaction of the brand new college and old style, weaved collectively in actually surprising methods.
Can the Avalanche lastly break by way of 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 have 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 largely been disappointment for the franchise. Getting bounced early within the playoffs, underachieving after large expectations — each glimmer of hope was met with disappointment, unable to interrupt by way of the west and get again to the promised land.
All that modified this season. Every thing got here collectively for a league-best 56-19-7 file. Colorado’s astonishing younger gamers Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon have been joined with the breakout of defender Cale Makar. Makar’s 86 factors this season, and gorgeous playoffs is already placing him in lofty firm — with Wayne Gretzky evaluating the 23-year-old to Bobby Orr.
There is no such thing as a doubt that on the subject of the hearts and minds of the nation, the Avalanche are the workforce everybody needs to win. Their old-school pedigree, married with plucky youth makes Colorado immensely compelling — however getting previous the Lightning in a collection is like climbing a mountain.
Historical past is just not on Tampa Bay’s facet on the subject of cultivating an old style fanbase. The workforce 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 fact that no one has has success just like the Lightning.
With a mean age of 29.55, the Lightning are the second-oldest workforce within the league this season — led by Steven Stamkos and Tampa Bay’s world-beaters. There’s not a lot that must be stated concerning the exploits of this workforce, however this season their expertise actually paid off. In a daily season marketing campaign that noticed cracks beginning to seem within the getting older lineup, however when it mattered the management stepped up, beating the Maple Leafs, Panthers and Rangers in three grueling collection that required the workforce to win on the highway to get them up to now.
Stanley Cup Finals schedule
Recreation 1: Wednesday, June 15: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
Recreation 2: Saturday, June 18: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
Recreation 3: Monday, June 20: 8 p.m. Colorado at Tampa Bay
Recreation 4: Wednesday, June 22: 8 p.m. Colorado at Tampa Bay
*Recreation 5: Friday, June 24: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
*Recreation 6: Sunday, June 26: 8 p.m. Colorado at Tampa Bay
*Recreation 7: Tuesday, June 28: 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Colorado
* If essential
Head-to-head this season
The Avalanche and Lightning met twice throughout the common season, with Colorado successful 2-0, whereas Tampa Bay have been 0-1-1. In these video games they’d a slim 7-5 objective margin, which factors to this collection being extremely shut.
What is going to resolve this collection?
For the Avalanche it actually comes down to a few main elements:
- Taking part in as much as their potential
- Not getting inside their very own heads
- Having goaltending step up
Whenever you take a look at whole workforce 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 collection after 9 days of relaxation, an element of the Avalanche eliminating the Oilers so shortly.
The error is to typically suppose that relaxation is a boon, however for a younger workforce is could cause gamers to lose focus. Particularly when you’ve got a metropolis and a fanbase who’ve been ready twenty years for this second. That results in plenty of strain, and will see the workforce get out of the gate slower than anticipated.
That is compounded by the less-than-stellar goaltending the workforce has had this season. Neither Darcy Kuemper (who’s nursing an harm) 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 ok, however the lightning are a significant check to the gamers between the pipes.
In the meantime for the Lightning this collection comes right down to:
- Not being too worn out
- Having the depth to maintain up
- With 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 battle to get up to now, taking part in 17 playoff video games previous to the Stanley Cup Finals, and coming off a six recreation collection in opposition to the Rangers.
Most would agree than on the subject of top-end expertise the Lightning have the sting on this collection, but it surely’s once we get to the later traces that issues look extra shaky. The getting older Tampa Bay depth might want to content material with far youthful opponents, and hope their legs can sustain.
Lastly, the workforce has to comprise Makar, whose offensive expertise are so prolific it’s like having a fourth ahead on the ice for the Avalanche. Makar turned the primary defender in NHL historical past to register 5 factors in a series-clinching recreation in opposition to the Oilers, and his capability to make use of his imaginative and prescient and passing prowess to arrange his teammates makes him the last word x-factor on this collection.
It’s extraordinarily nerve wracking to guess in opposition to Tampa Bay on the subject of the Stanley Cup Finals, and anybody doubting them ought to accomplish that at their peril. Nevertheless, when it’s all stated and accomplished I imagine the Colorado Avalanche will win the Stanley Cup in a grueling seven recreation collection that sees the house workforce hoist the trophy in entrance of their rabid followers.