The 2022 Stanley Cup Final could be decided Friday night in Denver, with the Colorado Avalanche having a 3-1 lead over Tampa Bay Lightning.
Who needs to step up for Lightning to force the series back to Tampa? Who is Conn Smythe’s favorite? Do Avs raise the trophy at home? Our hockey experts asked us these questions and more ahead of a potential playoffs.
Who are we going to talk about if Avs wins Game 5?
Kristen Shelton, NHL reporter: Cal Makar. If Colorado wins the Stanley Cup on ice at home, it will be in large part due to McCar’s impressive post-season performance. From start to finish, he was always incredible. The first match of the cup final may not have been Makar’s best, but he has adapted to Lightning’s stifling style and responded accordingly. He is the third all-time leading scorer in the post-season (seven goals, 27 points in 18 games) and is a force in every situation (see: Scoring with a short kick and on strong play in Game 2).
The way he can keep playing alive with his skating supremacy and excellent awareness is just next level. We’ve all learned about McCar’s entry into the playoffs, but winner Norris was better than announced and would dominate the conversation if that ends in Colorado’s favour.
Greg Wyshynski, NHL Reporter: Darcy Comber. Look, I’m a Kuemper truther. When I chose Avalanche to win this series, I did so with my belief that the goalkeeper Pavel Francos Eventually it will take the crease out of it against the lightning. For a minute, it looked like this: Kuemper was dragged into defeating Lightning’s Game 3 and had passive targets saved above expectations for the series. Lightning’s huge advantage in goal Andrei Vasilevsky It looked like he could flip the Stanley Cup Final. That is, until Kuemper saved 37 saves in match 4 and scored more goals than expected (1.14) than Vasilevskiy (1.08). Now the avalanche is back home, their speed and horrible check helping Kuemper to a stop in game two. It could be a very good night for the goalkeeper and his teammates.
Victoria Matias, NHL Analyst: Nazim Qadri. Playing only one game since June 4, the Colorado center may have the latest legs there, along with a desire to contribute after denying them a chance for most of the month. So I especially love his chances of being the ultimate difference-maker, once again, after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 (it doesn’t affect how the scoring game unfolds, but I hope it’s an appropriate number of snowboarders this time around). Plus, there’s the return of my destiny after surgery on his crushed thumb which at first seemed to keep him out of the playoffs. Even considering the magic of modern medicine, he must have been in great pain. Sports fans of all stripes adore such novels, and for good reason.
Arda Okal, NHL host: I think he’ll be able to too, but since Victoria chose him, I’ll take her Valery Nesushkin. He’s had an amazing post-season, and I can definitely see him enjoying his signature moment in Game 5. Overall, I think so Cal Makar He’s got Conn Smythe, but there are several excellent bits – like Nichushkin – that have brought this team one game of its first title since 2001.
If Lightning is to return to this series, who is the only player who needs to get up on Friday?
Shelton: Stephen Stamkos. And I don’t just mean on ice, although Stamkos could add more in there as well. Stamkos only has two points in the cup final, both in Lightning’s 6-2 win over Avs in Game 3. He’s set to have an even more momentum-changing moment.
On top of that, Tampa Bay will need to lead Stamkos to quickly turn the page in Game 4. Clearly – and perhaps understandably – Lightning had strong feelings about the overtime winner Nazim Kadri. There is simply no time to waste in moving on from those sentiments if Tampa Bay intends to extend the series into Game Six. Stamkos is a respectable voice. He himself has gone through a lot, both personally and professionally. If anyone can share the wisdom of perseverance, it is him. Not to say Lightning at a generally isn’t mentally strong enough to overcome the controversy that a lot of guys have. This looks like a bend where, when their heads are easy to hang, the lightning will look at their leader for perspective.
Wyshynski: Andrei Vasilevsky. He has earned his place as one of the best post-season guards in NHL history. He played great in games 3 and 4 in Tampa, then seven goals against the Horror Show in Game 2 in Denver. But he didn’t steal a game in the series, and if Lightning were to bring this back to Tampa for Game 6, they would need Big Cat’s best performance in the playoffs. Lightning knows what’s to come in Denver. The avalanche is back in front of its fans, with the last line change, and they can savor the festive champagne. They are recovering as the list of Lightning injuries grows. If there was ever a time for Vasilevskiy to be the difference maker, now is the time.
Matthias: Victor Hedman. Not only in defense, working to slow the Avs, but also helping the Lightning cause in attack. Tampa has one goal to play power in this series, Regards Corey Berry. One. This will not cut it. The top Lightning unit should be better, starting with Hedman, who sits second after Nikita Kucherov In postseason points with the extra skater. I suspect Friday’s officials won’t whistle as deeply as they did in Game 4. Hedman and his crew need to take advantage when the call goes their way.
entrust: Give me a set of Ross ColtonAnd the Ondrej BalatAnd the Anthony CirelliAnd the Pierre Edouard BellemareAnd the Mikhail Sergechev …lots of options here. I think a lot of people will refer to Vasilevskiy as Nikita Kucherov and Stamkos, but if Lightning were to win Game 5, I think their depth would be the biggest factor. They will need all 4 streaks to stop the avalanche and continue this streak
Will the cup be handed out after Game 5 or are we going back to Tampa?
Shelton: Lightning Game 4 started hot and then fizzled out hard. Colorado has gone from being a flat-footed man to flying high. What did Tampa Bay leave in the reservoir? Vasilevskiy has been really good at holding Lightning so far, while Kuemper had his best post-season performance in Game 4. The stars seem to be teaming up with Colorado to win the trophy at home on the ice in Game 5.
I think they can do it: 4-3 in OT, avalanche over lightning.
Wyshynski: To answer Kristen’s question, I don’t think the lightning has left much in his closet, or at least not enough to hang on with the Denver avalanche at this moment. Game 5 overtime looked suspiciously the same as Games 1 and 2, with Colorado holding play in terms of shot attempts and zone time while Lightning desperately hoped for a counter punch. The avalanche now sets their matches with the last change, which means they can get it Nathan McKinnon away from Anthony Cirelli – If the check post is playing, because he’s one of the many injured Lightning walkers – and back across the Stamkos streak, whose avalanche had been cut into oblivion in the first two games.
I think it ends with Game 5 and convincingly: a 4-1 avalanche to win the Stanley Cup.
Matthias: It’s hard to pick against Stamkos & Co after all the club has accomplished over the past two years, but Lightning looked like the underdog team of all but the first period of Game 4 – a competition they really needed to win. And while everyone is still saying all the right things, the prospect of getting three matches in a row against a high-quality avalanche team is Should feel awful. This is what lightning has looked like in quite some time.
While I want Game 6 – because it’s fun! Friday will likely be the end of the 2021-22 qualifying road: 5-2 avalanche.
entrust: Congratulations to Colorado Avalanche, the 2022 Stanley Cup Champion
Who is Coon Smith of your choice now?
Shelton: headquarters. I just don’t know game after game who could match what McCar brought to Colorado in the playoffs. McKinnon was definitely good. But not on the same level as Makar. The defender averages over 27 minutes of icy time in a match in every situation, yet he appears to be indefatigable. When the avalanche is at its best creating opportunities away from the rush, Makar starts much of that from the back end. He has been the most consistent and reliable avalanche player while facing some of the toughest fights (eg Conor McDavid And the Leon Drystel) These qualifiers had to submit. What is more valuable than that?
Wyshynski: headquarters. There are three options here. Nazim Qadri Now he has two of the most inspiring performances in the Stanley Cup playoffs, with a hat-trick in St. Louis after facing the distasteful backlash for his collision with Jordan Bennington; And with the overtime winner in Game 4 against Tampa Bay, in his first game after thumb surgery. But if the Avalanche striker gets the nod, it’s undoubtedly McKinnon who has better numbers and sets him apart as Colorado’s tough off-ice captain. But neither had Makar’s numbers, who has had a defensive impact as well (like against Conor McDavid’s streak) and has set records for men’s defense in the post-season. The winner of Norris also takes Conn.
Matthias: The boring and correct answer is the same as the other answer, Makar. Together with partner Devon TozeThe young defender has effectively stifled some of the game’s best players. Then there is his own goal tally of seven goals and 20 assists in 18 games. A lot has to happen in the next few days for another big contender to appear.
entrust: I said it above, but it’s Makar – he’s a star. Compare Bobby Orr. This should tell you everything you need to know.