2022 Stanley Cup Final: Five things to know before Lightning v Avalanche | Stanley Cup

Tampa Bay: apparently still very good!

Well, here we are, back to where we started – and closer to having the answer to a question we asked before this playoff. With a 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay on Saturday night, the Lightning secured their place in the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight year, with captain Steven Stamkos scoring both goals, and are now flirting with the greatness of all. the temperature.

Steven Stamkos buries the Lightning's third goal of the night. ⚡️

(🎥: @TBLightning)pic.twitter.com/dQdYgFgIsV

— theScore (@theScore) June 8, 2022


Whatever you think of that game-winning goal, New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin isn’t to blame for the game or the series result. Shesterkin played a great series. Tampa does just that to teams: They’ve done it 11 straight in the playoffs over the past three years. Whether or not the Rangers were tired of the previous two series, which both went to seven games, Tampa made them see tiredness. After Games 1 and 2, Tampa passed, passed, passed and finally passed the Rangers. New York was also outclassed – it happened to many teams against the Lightning recently as well. Jon Cooper has a lot of work, but he is also an effective communicator: more of a business manager than a traditional hockey coach.

Anyway, here’s how it went on the ice: After being the first team to win back-to-back wins over Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in three years, the Rangers stopped scoring. New York has scored nine goals in the first two games, but managed just five more in the last four – only one of which was at even strength. That won’t be enough. Tampa Bay is simply too disciplined a team, too willing to play tough defense when it counts, and have too good a goalie to rely on your power play to beat them.

You must be able to outperform them in all situations. You have to be a team like the Colorado Avalanche.

Avalanches are an offensive machine

There were perhaps only two points during the regular season when the Colorado Avalanche looked like a normal hockey team: at the very beginning, when they struggled at the opening, and at the very end, when they went 1-6 in their last seven games. But that last stretch was either a fluke or an elaborate forgery. Either way, we shouldn’t have been wrong. The reality is that the Avalanche are marauding hockey machines.

Look what they did in Edmonton. My God. And yet, here’s the thing: even though the Oilers were swept, their offensive performance was pretty good! In most other situations, that would probably have meant winning the series. Check out this comparison from JFreshHockey of five-on-five situations at 60 minutes.

Series 5v5 Microstat Recap: #GoAvsGo defeat #LetsGoOilers

If you like offence, especially off the rush, this was the series for you. The Avs created quantity of… pretty much everything, and while the Oilers produced enough offensively to win most series, they didn't keep up. pic.twitter.com/J6O0Cxq25X

— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) June 7, 2022


Summary of the 5v5 series microstats: #GoAvsGo defeat #LetsGoOilers

If you like offense, especially off the rush, this was the series for you. The Avs created an amount of … pretty much everything, and while the Oilers produced enough offensively to win most series, they didn’t keep up. pic.twitter.com/J6O0Cxq25X

—JFresh (@JFreshHockey) June 7, 2022

In fact, Colorado is already a historic power. As Neil Paine wrote this week to FiveThirtyEight, this Avalanche team ranks 10th in points-per-game differential among all Stanley Cup finalists through the final round and is only tied than with, ironically, the Edmonton Oilers 1982-83 for the second-best win. percentage. The 2022 Oilers, for their part, are a pretty good hockey team. But the Oilers aren’t a good enough hockey team to beat the Colorado Avalanche. The team that is good enough to beat the Avalanche will have to play very disciplined defensive hockey, have a clutch goaltender and the ability to shut down a powerful offense.

Oh, and another thing: they will have to be able to pass Cale Makar. Not an easy thing, because if we’ve learned anything from the Avalanche-Oilers series, it’s that…

Makar can see the Matrix

The debate over who is the NHL’s best player usually revolves around two players: Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid. Naturally, given their respective aiming ability and overall magic. Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon also participates in this chat from time to time. Yet, from the start, perhaps the best player has actually been his teammate, defender Cale Makar.

Reminder that Cale Makar treats the NHL like Tuesday night beer league, casually sandbagging divisions, eating cookies on the bench. 🍪 pic.twitter.com/USEvehgrhE

— Bring Hockey Back (@BringHockeyBack) May 4, 2022


Recall that Cale Makar treats the NHL like the Tuesday night beer league, chaining divisions with sandbags, eating cookies on the bench. 🍪 pic.twitter.com/USEvehgrhE

— Bring Hockey Back (@BringHockeyBack) May 4, 2022

In his 14 playoff games leading up to the final round, Makar scored 22 points. That includes 10 points in the Nashville Predators’ first-round sweep, the most by a defenseman in four playoff games. That also includes the five he had in Colorado’s last game against the Oilers, a single-game total that no defenseman has managed in the playoffs since Al MacInnis in 1994. The closest defensive contender of Makar this playoff season, Rangers defenseman Adam Fox, had 23 points… but through 20 games. Taking nothing away from Fox, he was also not assigned to cover for McDavid. Makar was. And did it without even breaking a sweat.


📺: Game 3 tomorrow at 8p ET on @NHL_On_TNT and @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/ecETJf2cAo

— NHL (@NHL) June 3, 2022


Makar sees the matrix and bends it to his will. Makar is the One.

A touch of history

There’s a superstition surrounding NHL Conference Championship trophies: hitting the Clarence Campbell Bowl (West) or the Prince of Wales Trophy (East) will condemn your team to losing the Stanley Cup. It is also customary that if the team poses with either trophy, they do so with solemn faces. The logic, if you want to call it that, is that it’s not the real thing. The theory is rubbish, of course: many teams that have touched either trophy have won the Stanley Cup. But the tradition reflects the fact that no one really cares about conference championships in hockey. Only the Stanley Cup matters. But it’s always fun to watch a real-time team debate over whether to collectively choose a superstitious belief or not — or which version of it.

I did a lip read of the Avs will they touch it moment. pic.twitter.com/Jy2H84eB0B

— Nathan Rudolph (@Nathan__Rudolph) June 7, 2022


Joe Sakic clearly doesn’t care about superstition. But can other coincidences have any meaning? As mentioned, this Avalanche team has the best playoff winning record since the 1982-83 Oilers before the Finals. These Oilers just happened to take on the New York Islanders — and were swept away. It was the Islanders’ third straight Stanley Cup win, the last time a hat-trick occurred.

Prior to the series against the Islanders in the spring of 1983, Oilers general manager Glen Sather told the New York Times, “I don’t see if we’re much different from the Islanders. Except that they went much further than us. And we would certainly like to replace them. Reflecting years later on their loss, the Oilers saw what the differences were. “They were a little more disciplined than us and probably had a better work ethic,” Grant Fuhr said in 2019. “Going past the Islander room that year, we realized how hard it is to win, “Said Wayne Gretzky. “They weren’t even celebrating, I was thinking ‘They’re exhausted, I guess there’s more to give.'” Paul Coffey said.

The Lightning proved in the playoffs why they are the first team since the Islanders to play for a third consecutive Cup. Now, here are the Avalanche: a high-scoring, fast and dynamic team from the West. The 80s vibes are strong right now.

Will we have a triple?

I suck at predictions most of the time, but this game-up feels good from the start of the playoffs — maybe because I feel like the goalie is about to change. But is it time? Colorado will give Tampa Bay its toughest challenge yet. They will be rested and they will be hungry. They’re arguably the toughest opponent the Lightning have faced in the Finals: they’re a much better team than Dallas or Montreal. The Avalanche can do whatever it takes to beat the Lightning, no doubt. But I don’t think they will. Tampa feels like the deeper team, mentally. And with Brayden Point likely to return, they will also be deeper offensively. Tampa will discover Colorado – or at least Vasilevskiy will, and maybe that’s all that matters.

A few months ago, my money was on Colorado. Now I think Tampa Bay will triple. But we’ll have six big hockey games before that.

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