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Stanley Cup Last 2022: Lightning, Avs set for enormous showdown


The 2022 Stanley Cup Last can be a battle of heavyweights.

On one aspect is the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the previous two Cups, aiming to change into the primary three-peat champion within the NHL because the New York Islanders gained 4 in a row from 1980-83.

On the opposite aspect is the Colorado Avalanche, who completed with the second-most factors within the common season and need to fulfill the promise they’ve proven for years.

The Lightning, who’ve gained 11 consecutive playoff collection, determine to be the staff to beat. However it’s the Avs who’re favored within the Last and are available with home-ice benefit. Sport 1 is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, ABC) at Denver’s Ball Area.

Of Tampa Bay’s three opponents within the Last — the Dallas Stars in 2020, the Montreal Canadiens in 2021 and now the Avs — Colorado is by far the hardest, not less than on paper. However the proficient Avs know the Lightning have a major edge in high-stakes expertise.

So, who will hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup? Listed here are the questions that may form what occurs within the Last.

Will the Avs be affected by rust?

Colorado made fast work of the Edmonton Oilers within the Western Convention last, sweeping them. Nevertheless, Sport 4 was performed Monday, June 6, that means Sport 1 of the Cup Last would be the Avs’ first sport in 9 days.

The Lightning can relate. After sweeping their second-round collection with the Florida Panthers, additionally they needed to wait 9 days earlier than beginning the Jap Convention last towards the New York Rangers … and promptly dropped the primary two video games. Nevertheless, they overcame that deficit rapidly, profitable the subsequent 4 to arrange their date with the Avs.

How invincible is Andrei Vasilevskiy?

Tampa Bay’s all-world goaltender, final season’s winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the playoffs, is a main candidate for the award once more. The 27-year-old has a .928 save share and a pair of.27 goals-against common by way of 17 playoff video games.

Nevertheless, his true worth comes when the Lightning is on the verge of clinching a collection. That’s when Vasilevskiy is at his finest. 

So for the Avs, avoiding falling behind within the collection is much more crucial than common.

Can the Lightning comprise Nathan MacKinnon?

The Avs star has been on a mission all through the Stanley Cup playoffs, producing highlight-reel objectives like this one within the convention semis towards the St. Louis Blues.

MacKinnon has probably the most objectives of any participant remaining within the playoffs, with 11, and figures to attract particular consideration from the Lightning each time he steps on the ice. 

Who can be in objective for Colorado?

Darcy Kuemper was the Avs’ No. 1 goalie all through the season, however he has twice been knocked out of the lineup attributable to harm in these playoffs. The second time, in Sport 1 towards Edmonton, Pavel Francouz took over and manned the crease the remainder of the collection.

So who will begin off dealing with the Lightning? Kuemper advised reporters he was “one hundred pc” final week, so it stands to motive that he would get the decision for Sport 1. However Francouz is 6-0 within the playoffs.

From the Lightning’s viewpoint, each Kuemper and Francouz are succesful goalies, however neither are Igor Shesterkin, the Vezina Trophy finalist for the Rangers who Tampa Bay needed to work extra-hard to beat within the earlier collection.

What’s the standing of injured stars on each groups?

Each groups may start the Last with key gamers lacking from their lineups.

For Tampa Bay, middle Brayden Level hasn’t performed since struggling a lower-body harm in Sport 7 of the staff’s first-round collection towards the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nevertheless, he has resumed skating in follow, and Lightning coach Jon Cooper mentioned Level is “extraordinarily possible” to return in some unspecified time in the future within the collection.

Colorado middle Nazem Kadri was injured when he was checked from behind into the boards by Edmonton’s Evander Kane in Sport 3 of the Western Convention last — a success that earned Kane a one-game suspension.

Although the Avs haven’t mentioned formally, it’s potential that Kadri — who has drawn loads of consideration throughout these playoffs — doesn’t play in any respect towards the Lightning.

Is that this the yr for Corey Perry?

The veteran winger is taking part in in his third straight Stanley Cup Last, however the earlier two occasions he was on the shedding finish. He performed for Dallas in 2020 and Montreal in 2021.

Now with the Lightning, he’s seeking to lastly be on the profitable finish (Don’t really feel too unhealthy for him, although. He already has his identify on the Cup, profitable it in 2007 with the Anaheim Geese).

In the meantime, his teammate Patrick Maroon is seeking to hoist the Cup for the fourth straight season, having achieved it twice with Tampa Bay and in 2019 with the Blues.

How a lot fuel does Tampa Bay have within the tank?

The downside of profitable two straight Stanley Cups: That’s loads of additional hockey. The Lightning have performed 17 video games this postseason, after taking part in 22 in 2020 (in the course of the bubble playoffs) and 23 in 2021.

Will it make a distinction now that the Lightning are this near turning into a full-fledged dynasty? Maybe not, however the put on and tear is one thing to observe for at the moment of yr.

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