It is the oldest American team sports cup. It is the most emblematic, with its majestic shape thanks to a base that collects the plaques with the names of all the winners. There The Stanley Cup carries the weight of history. Raising him at the end of the NHL playoffs is a challenge, the players are exhausted and the cup does not hold easily. But it is the dream of a lifetime.
They know it well the Tampa Bay Lightning that raised it in 2020 and 2021. No one has ever won it again three years in a row since 1983 (New York Islanders). Since, five teams have won for two consecutive years, but they have failed on the third occasion without reaching the final. The success of Lightning is truly exceptional, because it is the first time a team has managed to gain so much time in the era of the wage cap (2005). In recent years it has always been difficult to keep the core of players available. Winning also means taking off. Players who become free agents can go elsewhere to earn more. Current champions can’t keep everyone, because they have to stay within the salary cap. Tampa Bay has managed to lose the pieces, but not its main business, the core of the best. those indispensable champions who maintain the talent, technical ability, work ethic, spirit of suffering needed to reach the finish line in this knockout race which are the NHL playoffs unchanged over time. And the missing pieces have been replaced well, by players chosen for attitude and ambition.
The coach himself Jon Cooperwhich drives the group since 2013 (and this is also a rarity in hockey of that era), he no longer knows what to say. He is just “deeply impressed” by what his players are doing. Players who do not need to give more reasons than those who already know how to produce for themselves. No one thinks he has already won a cup, many even two. They only think there is a chance of winning the third.
Colorado studied the same model
EL Colorado Avalanche knows exactly what they are getting into. They know that to be the best they have to beat the best. They have been one of the strongest teams in the NHL for years and have experienced the dramatic frustration of never advancing beyond the second round of the playoffs. It also happened to the Lightning that it failed. Tampa Bay lost the final in 2015 and was sensationally eliminated in the first round of the 2019 playoffs by Columbus after a record-breaking regular season (128 points). He had to leave scars before becoming the winning team in recent years. The Avalanche is the best team to watch, an offensive machine that scores burst goals (more than 4 per game) and produces speed transitions that annihilate opponents. Impossible to go at your own pace. But often in the playoffs it takes longer to get out. You have to know how to adapt to less favorable situations, you have to know how to fight hand to hand. The final is the ultimate test for Colorado. We will find out if they have also been able to learn to suffer and to be hungrier than their opponents.
The historic center of Tampa Bay
The Lightning bring their certainties to the final. Captain Steven Stamkos, a player who made his debut in 2008 and who reaches the final in splendid physical condition after the last years in which he has had several stops due to injuries of all kinds and at each extremity. A scorer, as evidenced by the two goals against the Rangers that led Tampa Bay to the final. It’s the slap, the most powerful and devastating volley we’ll see in the final. Nikita Kucherov is the team’s true offensive thermometer. If it spins, the whole attack works and especially the power play. It’s the one that generates the most points even in these playoffs for the Lightning, but it’s not just the goals that make the difference. It is their game, ability and pleasure to put their teammates in the best conditions to score. It is also his superior technique. His are the best hands we will ever see. Victor Hedman it is the historical presence in defense. For as long as he has been, he has been a perennial candidate for the Best Defender of the Year award. In 2020 he was also the MVP of the playoffs. Andrei Vasilevsky he is the most decisive goalkeeper in this era of hockey. MVP of the 2021 playoffs, their concentration and performance grow the more important the game. If there is a decisive match, it will allow you to play it to the end. In these matches he concedes an average of 1.6 goals to rivals. To these are added other columns such as Ryan McDonagh and Brayden Point, stopped for 10 games but seems ready to return to the team for the final. Point was the player who scored the most in both 2020 and 2021 in the playoffs.
Colorado has the talent to make a name for itself
He Avalanche certainly has special playersthe. We have to start with Nathan MacKinnon, a real driver. The most exciting coast – to – coast player to watch in action on an icy track (along with Connor McDavid obviously). If it starts and picks up speed, it can’t stop. In addition, he also has an imposing physique. Don’t move it. Don’t be intimidated. He is a natural leader. His performance in the playoffs has always been excellent, regardless of the team’s results. Cale Makar is another player who steals attention for the magnificent beauty of his game. He is a defender who can change the game in any change. He has superior skating skills, like a pure wing. Push the Avalanche action, join the attack and build your teammates or finish from the blue line. Play in any special situation, power play and criminal killing. Finnish Artturi Lehkonen is a versatile striker who completes the lines of the Avalanche by making a fundamental contribution on both fronts. Considered unfair especially a player who gives good coverage on defensive returns, he is a sensational top scorer as these playoffs have shown. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is one of the team’s offensive terminals, which ends. His presence in front of the cage is essential to blocking the vision of opposing goalkeepers and he is one of the most skilled players in the NHL to deflect shots from the blue line.
The Avalanche will have to go beyond the difficulties
He Lightning defense system it will be an important test for the Avalanche. MacKinnon could often be found in front of Cirelli’s line, which with Hagel and Killorn has always limited the opponent’s top line so far. Colorado had an easy time in the playoffs, where he won 12 games and only lost twice, winning two sets 4-0. But teams with a goalkeeper like Vasilevskiy have never been found … Colorado begins the final series without Kadri and Cogliano, both operated on a finger for the injuries healed in the series against the Oilers. His absence, that of Kadri in particular, draws depth.
The Stanley Cup at Sky Sports
All Stanley Cup 2022 matches are live on Sky Sports and all with the live commentary in Italian. It starts this week in between Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 June at 2 pm at the Sky Sport Arena. Race 2 will be in the evening between Saturday and Sundayagain at 2am on Sky Sport Action.