2022 Stanley Cup Final – Burning questions for Colorado Avalanche-Tampa Bay Lightning

The 2022 Stanley Cup Final The event will take place in Denver on Wednesday night. one of the best matchups in recent memory. The Tampa Bay Lightning They are hoping to be the first to do a three-peat ever since the New York Islanders From 1980 to 1983, he won four consecutive times. The highest-flying Colorado Avalanche They average 4.64 goals per match and only 14 games were required to advance to the finals.

Which team will win the best goalie matchups? How will injuries affect both teams? Which players should you be paying the most attention? Our hockey experts, Emily Kaplan and Kristen Shilton, asked us these questions ahead of the start to the finals.

2022 Stanley Cup Final - Burning questions for Colorado Avalanche-Tampa Bay Lightning

What do you love most about this postseason matchup, and why?

Although we don't usually want to use hyperbole in traffic, this matchup between Lightning and Avalanche is one of the most memorable in NHL history.

As is the case with many Stanley Cup finals, it's not one where an upstart team attempts to prevent a prohibitive favourite from winning. It's a battle between two of the best postseason teams. Both teams have a lot of stars and a strong team of role players. Both the Lightning and Avalanche are great on the ice. However, each team is better at one side. Colorado's average of 4.64 goals per match is the best since the beginning. Edmonton Oilers 1988 (minimum of 14 games). Tampa Bay is leading the playoffs with a 2.41 goal per game against the average of the best goalie worldwide. Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Next, there's the narrative hook. The Lightning want to be the first NHL team that can three-peat since 1983, when the Islanders won their fourth consecutive. The Lightning are the sixth team to be selected. win back-to-back Cups since then The first six players to progress past the second round after the second championship. This feat is possible in a salary cap era. The Avalanche are meanwhile trying to win the first Cup since 2001. This is the team of the Nathan MacKinnon The era was a disappointment in the playoffs, with four consecutive postseasons that saw them fail to make it past the second round. The Avs are now victorious. They're now trying to imitate the 1984 Oilers who beat the Islanders in Stanley Cup Final: Ending one dynasty and starting a new one.

The most exciting thing? The best thing about the ESPN hockey family is that any prediction can be trusted and that any outcome is possible. The ESPN hockey family predicted a Lightning victoryBut only 14 of the 26 pundits back that pick. This matchup is very close. This matchup will be an absolute blast. — Greg Wyshynski


What was the most important factor in the Lightning's chances of a three-peat?

Team culture. The team's construction is the first step. Lightning's championship team was built through the draft. Credit to their scouting for finding players like Ondrej Palat (seventh round), Brayden Point (3) Third round Anthony Cirelli (third round). The team's coaching and development staffs are to be credited for guiding these players on the right track. The team is always tight against the cap, forcing talented and likeable players to go. They are able to find free agents and mid-season picks. Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Brandon Hagel Nicholas Paul They have fit in seamlessly with the lineup. The Lightning feel that character and role are as important as skill. That's why they can seem to overpay for Hagel but feel great about it. He plays the role he is supposed to — and he does it well.

Perhaps the most important thing about the Lightning is their brand identity. We assume that the Lightning are an offensive team. However, their true potential lies in their defensive structure. All players buy in stylistically. They were able to stop the players from buying in. RangersNew York lost in the Eastern Conference finals' Game 2 middle game. The Lightning locker rooms are a team of men who love each other and trust one another to perform their respective roles. This is a culture that has been developed over time and is difficult to replicate. — Emily Kaplan


What are the two best players on each team?

I think Anthony Cirelli The Lightning will be a shining star in the series thanks to him. His work in this postseason is a testament to his status as one of the most skilled defensive forwards in the league. Cirelli has excelled in matches against top-line centers of opponents. That résumé includes Auston Matthews Round 1 Aleksander Barkov In the second round Mika Zibanejad In the conference finals. You can be certain Nathan MacKinnon Cirelli's next man up is Cirelli's assistant coach Jon Cooper, but the Lightning coach might need to wait until Tampa games to match the lines.

I have been completely blown away by the Avs. Cale Makar This is Makar's second postseason and I am so excited to be there. We were astonished by Makar's skating skills during the regular season, and he made it seem effortless during playoffs. He will be. The A long-standing player in this league, the Final should provide a fantastic showcase for his talents to a wide audience. — Kaplan


What do you think about the goalie matchups?

This is the Lightning's biggest advantage in this series. After a tough first round against Lightning Toronto Maple Leafs, Andrei Vasilevskiy A.939 save percentage was achieved and an average of 1.81 goals against at 5-on-5 in ten games. He concluded his highly-anticipated goalie duel with the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin Four straight wins, and a.955 save rate in those games. Vasilevskiy's reputation as a closer is legendary. He has won 13 series championships and stopped 219 out of 221 shots during his eight series-clinching victories.

Because Vasilevskiy is the Lightning's postseason player, there's an inherent level of confidence. Everybody, from players to coaches Jon Cooper, will say Vasilevskiy is the last of their worries when they face adversity. It is well-deserved and well-rewarded.

It is unfair to say that the Avalanche won despite their goaltending. Darcy Kuemper Pavel Francouz. It's easier to say that they haven’t been the reason why the Avalanche has won three rounds in the playoffs.

It's true to say that Colorado's goaltending has been better than its defense: Colorado's 5-on-5 goals rate is 2.13, but their actual goals against per 60 are 2.47. Kuemper's postseason save percentage is.897, with a respectable.908 at even strength. Francouz's postseason save percentage is.906 and Francouz's at even strength is a respectable,.916. Metrically, Kuemper's minus-4.4 goals save is above average. This is the worst goalie to have played more than 10 games in this postseason.

The Avalanche are confident in who plays in the Final. They cite Kuemper's hard work during the regular season as well as Francouz's winning streak of six games in the playoffs. Francouz also has a 24-save shutout in favor of the Oilers. However, it is nothing compared to the faith the Lightning have placed in their man. — Wyshynski


What are the key players in their success?

Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche: MacKinnon scored 18 points in 14 playoff matches, including 11 goals. This is the most for any Finalist. His shot volume is what makes him so successful. He averages 16.7 shots per minute in all situations. His passion and determination are legendary among his team; he never misses a practice or a game.

Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche: The Avalanche captain has scored 17 points in 14 games. He's been playing up with MacKinnon, but Colorado has also played him on a second-line. Nazem Kadri When he's healthy. Landeskog is a valuable asset because of his physical health.

Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche: The Finnish winger is the top-scoring forward in Colorado with 17 points, 12 assists and 17 points in 14 games. He has scored in nine of the past ten games, and has been on a heater recently. He could be a gamebreaker in this series.

Devon Toews, Avalanche: Emily mentioned Cale MakarSo let's concentrate on Makar as his defensive partner. Toews & Makar were deployed as a team against Connor McDavid In the Edmonton series Colorado was often the superior team at 5-on-5. Toews is perhaps best known for being the “defensive defenceman” in the Makar pairing, but Toews has also scored 13 points in 14 games. That's the kind of run that has worked for the Avs.

Steven Stamkos, Lightning: In the playoffs, the captain scored nine goals and had six assists. He was an important difference-maker in Eastern Conference finals, scoring four goals, including Tampa Bay’s only two goals during the Game 6 clincher. Avalanche general manager Joe SakicThe two Stanley Cup victories for Colorado as a player were won by Colorado's captain, Mike Sullivan, who praised Stamkos’ leadership and poise.

Nikita Kucherov, Lightning: Tampa Bay's scoring leader, who has scored 23 goals in 17 games, is often the one setting the standard for how the Lightning play. When he's on, everyone notices. His 1.35 point per game rank fourth among players who have played at least 10 postseason matches. Brilliant passer who can score goals with the best.

Ondrej Palat, Lightning: Palat was called a key player, but not a star during conference finals. “Who said he wasn't a star?” Snapped Tampa Bay winger Pat Maroon. “We believe he's an international star.” Palat is not a household star, but he has been a major player for the Lightning during these playoffs. He scored 16 points in 17 games. Two of his victories over the Rangers saw him score the game-winning goal, each with less than two seconds remaining in regulation.

Victor Hedman, Lightning: Hedman was a finalist this season for the Norris Trophy. It is an award given to the NHL’s best defenseman. The fact that he has only won the award once is somewhat surprising considering his dominance on both ends of the ice. He does however have the 2020 Conn Smythe Trophy, which is his playoff MVP award. He will need to play his best to fuel the Lightning's offense, where he has scored 14 points in 17 games. — Wyshynski


What impact will home ice have in this series?

Chaos theory is something I believe in. It doesn't matter what has happened in the past. The desperation of the characters often outweighs any trends seen in previous series.

It's important to note that both teams have been extremely good at home. Tampa Bay is 7-1 at home and hasn’t lost there since Game 3 against Toronto. Colorado is currently 5-2 at its home, which means that the Avalanche has suffered only two losses in this postseason. This would seem to give the Lightning an advantage. Amalie Arena patrons enjoyed a Final last season and will be able to bring more energy this year.

The Avalanche faithful waited for this moment since 2001. Tickets in Ball Arena are available for sale at $10,000 on the open marketplace. There is something wrong if a crowd so passionate and hungry to win the Cup doesn't give them an extra boost.

Colorado has home-ice advantage and I believe it will be a factor. We will find out whether that is at the beginning of the series or the end. Just imagine what Game 7 might look like in Denver, considering how intense the fan support was in the Western Conference finals. This is where you can really feel the difference. — Kristen Shilton


These are some players that you should pay attention to.

J.T. Compher, Avalanche. In the short-term, the Avalanche centre was assigned to fill the void created by the injured center. Nazem Kadri. Compher has been an emerging threat to their goal scoring over the past few week. Compher scored two goals in Game 6, against the St. Louis BluesTwo more against the Oilers in Game 1, and then the game-winning goal of Game 3 in Edmonton, which effectively ended the series.

Artturi Lehkonen, Avalanche. This center was one the most smartest trade deadline acquisitions by any team this season and his impact is immediate. Lehkonen is averaging six goals and five assists during the playoffs. This includes the overtime winner in Game 4.

Pat Maroon, Lightning. Maroon, on the other hand, is aiming to win a three-peat with the Lightning. The forward is aiming for his fourth straight Stanley Cup, 16th consecutive playoff-round win between the Blues and Lightning in 2019, and the three previous seasons. Maroon is a physical player on Tampa Bay. He has an unmatched ability for trash talking and can also score big goals. Maroon is respected by the team and is an important voice inside the locker room. A true character in an league that could use more.

Brandon Hagel, Lightning. Hagel found a home with Cirelli's newly established checking line in Tampa Bay. Alex Killorn. Their effectiveness has not translated into points. Hagel only scored one goal in 11 games, but he had 25 during the regular season. Hagel might be able to benefit from some of the Lightning's excellent defense and counterpunch opportunities on offense. — Wyshynski


What are the Avs to do if Nazem Khani doesn't come back?

The depth of Colorado's contingency plans without Kadri (“thumb”) really matters. The Avalanche project is to have players that can play larger roles. It's just not the ideal time to experiment with such things. However, injuries do happen. What can you do?

A good start is Mikko Raantanen being able to move to the center. This creates a winger slot. Andre Burakovsky In the top six and allow Valeri Nichushkin To see the top line with Nathan MacKinnon or Gabriel Landeskog. Nichushkin, who has been underrated in the postseason, has scored nine points in 14 games and could become a game-changer for Colorado, if Kadri isn't back.

Artturi Lehkonen was the hero in Game 4 in Edmonton. Kadri's power-play unit of the Avalanche was occupied by Artturi Lehkonen, who won the man advantage 2-for-2. This is not an accident. It's not a coincidence that GM Joe Sakic created Colorado with a solid foundation. That should enable them to weather the loss Kadri during the finals, if necessary.

Cale Makar is another option. His role is essentially that of an extra forward and elite defender. This will help to offset some of the losses caused by Kadri's departure.

Kadri's return seems to be a positive sign. Kadri has been to the gym and has started skating again, although without a stick. Coach Jared Bednar doesn't rule him out for Game 1. (although it is highly unlikely that he'll play there). Kadri's return is possible, so there is reason to be hopeful. — Shilton


What can the Lightning get from Brayden Point

It's hard to say. Point was injured in the lower body during Game 7. Jon Cooper informed me that if he sustained a similar injury during the regular season, it would take four to six weeks. We are just at the beginning of that timeline. Point has put in a lot of work to rehab to reach this point. I have the feeling that he would have been able to play Game 7 of the conference finals if the series had returned to New York. Cooper spoke Tuesday that Point could play in Game 1.

Cooper told me that this isn't the same situation as Steven Stamkos 2020. In that case, the captain dressed up to give himself a chance even though he knew he could inflict more injury. Point is not at the same risk.

Point was clearly uncomfortable the first time I saw him skate in the past two weeks. He spilled onto the boards at least twice. Point has appeared smoother these past days but he's not able to do line rushes in practice. — Kaplan


Who scored the most goals at the Stanley Cup Final? What is the total number of points?

Most Points: Nikita Kucherov. Lightning's winger, Lightning, is an offensive power player and 5-on-5 ace. The team's leader with 1.35 points per games is the Lightning winger, and it's not unreasonable to assume that this pace will slow down against the Avalanche goaltending.

Nathan MacKinnon is the most popular goalie. At all strengths, the Avalanche center averages 1.71 goals per 60 minutes. If a player has scored 11 goals in 14 games, MacKinnon's shot volume is sufficient to allow him to continue the round. — Wyshynski


Which Cup is your favorite and why?

In seven games, I voted for the Avalanche. There are several reasons.

The first is the fact that Colorado has been dominant during the postseason. Although Tampa Bay has managed its ups and downs well, the Avalanche have had no downs. The Avs were able to accomplish the task even in games Colorado didn’t do well in, and they did so quickly. You can sweep the Nashville Predators Perhaps it wasn't too surprising. But making Edmonton look so meager? It was a real eye-opener. Colorado is legit.

Another reason I am bullish on Avalanche is that this feels like their moment. The Lightning are an amazing team, and they could prove me wrong. Colorado has been frustrated and disappointed by its mistakes over the last couple of seasons. It is clear that Colorado has the desire to make a comeback and seize this opportunity. The Avalanche seem grateful for the opportunity and talent they have right now. Perhaps that will inspire a bit more confidence in Colorado and allow them to push past the defending champions. — Shilton


For consistency, I chose the Lightning in the Final over the Avs before the season. This is going to be close. It seems like it will go seven games. If Colorado wins, I think Cale Makar will win the Conn Smythe Trophy. — Kaplan


My Stanley Cup playoff predictions have been an embarrassment. You can see it by the absence of championships for my preseason pick, The Islanders, and for my postseason pick the Thespians. Florida Panthers. Congratulations or my apologies to the Colorado Avalanche. I have predicted that they will win the Cup in six games.

Because of their scoring depth, and their speed, the Avalanche have been a steamroller throughout postseason. I believe it will be difficult for the Lightning slow down. The Avs are playing at even strength in the playoffs with 2.91 goals per 60. The Lightning are a top defensive team, with the best goaltender in all of hockey. This gave me considerable pause when making this pick. This Colorado team has a lot more heart than the Leafs, Panthers, and Rangers teams who flopped under the adversity. The veteran Lightning accepted it. In that sense, the Avs are very similar to the Lightning: they learn from their past mistakes and understand how to win in playoffs.

The Avalanche are going to need a save. Pavel Francouz will win the day, despite spending a lot of doughnuts and dollars. — Wyshynski

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