In the NHL Finals, the avalanche goes from Caesar to its predecessor

Denver – The first game of the Stanley Cup Final was described as the opponent of the reigning champion. In the second game, the opponent flew past.

The Colorado Avalanche, which many years ago predicted it would quickly climb the ladder to greatness in the NHL, two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup after two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning was crushed 7-0 on Saturday. It felt like a party coming out.

Now the question arises: can Tampa Bay be revived as it happened in the Eastern Conference Finals after the Rangers gained a short-term 2-0 lead in the series? What if the world of hockey witnessed the transfer of power from a worthy but exhausted champion to a young, dynamic team? Was Game 2 Abortion if Colorado came more quickly than anyone predicted?

“They are playing at an elite level now, give them credit,” said Lightning coach John Cooper. “We are not.”

The hardest part is still ahead of Colorado. The next two games, including Game 3 on Monday night, are at sea level in Tampa, Florida, and for three seasons neither team has found a way to overcome the champion. Tampa Bay has won 11 consecutive playoff series, but Avalanche has the face of a different creature.

Entering the finals, some Lightning players acknowledged that Colorado would be the best team they have ever met in this league. But they were never going to assume that the avalanche was better. Two games from the series, however, Colorado looks faster, more dangerous, newer and even more loyal.

“There is a fine line between respecting an opponent and over-respecting an opponent,” said Stephen Stamkos, captain of Lightning. “We have to realize that we came here for some reason. Let’s go back to our game and realize that they have an incredible team with great skill in every position. But so do we. Let’s find out what we are made of when they return home.

It is becoming increasingly clear what Colorado is made of. Led by world-class playmaker Nathan McKinnon and transcendental, moving defender Kyle McCarthy, the team also has a wonderful supporting cast. It includes forwards Mikko Rantanen, Andre Burakovsky, Gabriel Landeskog and Valery Nichushkin, who scored twice in the second game, plus defender Devon Tow. All of them are under 30 years old.

Lightning, the second oldest midfielder among any NHL team, has relied on their experience to beat opponents over the past two years, but gaining that experience could be detrimental.

Going deep into the post-season for two years in a row, Tampa Bay has played more games than any other team during this period, and any possible fatigue can be exacerbated during heights at 1 and 2 games. Denver sits about a mile above the sea. Levels that may have affected Lightning’s performances. If so, a return to sea level for the 3rd and 4th games could help.

They need it. After Game 1, which moved to overtime, Lightning talked about better understanding how to play Avalanche. But it was Colorado that strengthened its lead with a new set of achievements.

It became the second team in more than 100 years to record more than seven goals in the Stanley Cup final since the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated the Minnesota North Stars 8-0 in their sixth game. That year.

Colorado also became the third team to score seven goals four times in a single postseason, joining the Edmonton Oilers, who did so six times in 1984 and five times in 1985, at a time when goals were being scored at a higher rate than today.

Makar scored twice in Game 2, with the Avalanche Blue liners having 17 goals (seven Macari) and 61 points in this playoffs, a record for Colorado defenders. McCarthy briefly scored the goal and added another to the power play, making him the second NHL defender to score from both sides in a Stanley Cup final. Glenn Wesley Boston Browns did this in 1988 against Edmonton.

Colorado won seven playoff games in a row, including the Oilers’s Western Conference Finals, and reached a 7-0 – majoritarian peak on the road in the second game of the finals.

“It certainly was as close to a perfect game as you can get from the players,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar.

Andrei Vasilevsky, the usual excellent goalkeeper of Tampa Bay, withstood the attack and allowed more goals to be scored than he had ever left in the post-season game. Most of it was not his fault. Colorado’s evil tempo helped create many premium moments, some of which Vasilevsky saved with remarkable mastery.

“We hung it up to dry,” Stamkos said. “It’s his duty to have a better game in the next match.”

Vasilevsky has not been replaced in the playoffs since 2018, it was a 77-game series and Cooper said he had no plans to pull him out of Game 2.

“Even I do not think he would come out,” Cooper said. “Here is what a competitor is. That’s why he’s the best. “

Stamkos said it was time to “strengthen” all of Lightning’s players, and Victor Hedman, a veteran defender, said the team would find out at home. But what hindered Cooper was the lack of retaliation against the team that came his way.

Although the avalanche is very different from the Rangers, Cooper said Elva can use her experience against New York to make a sharply inverted course at home.

“We wrote one story,” Cooper said. “Now we just have to write something else.”

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