It’s been so long since they played you might forget the Colorado Avalanche will be competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The team with the most wins and points in the Western Conference this season, the Avalanche rolled through the first three rounds losing just two games. They swept Nashville in the opening round and Edmonton in the Western Conference final and will now be tasked with ending the quest of the Tampa Bay Lightning for a three-peat. Tampa finished third in the Atlantic Division, but the group of seasoned champions excelled during the postseason coming back from an 0-2 deficit to beat the Rangers four straight to win the Eastern Conference with their 11th straight Stanley Cup playoff series victory.
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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche Series Schedule
Game 1: Lightning at Avalanche, Wednesday, June 15, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 2: Lightning at Avalanche, Saturday, June 18, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 3: Avalanche at Lightning, Monday, June 20, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 4: Avalanche at Lightning, Wednesday, June 22, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 5: Lightning at Avalanche, Friday, June 24 (If Necessary)
Game 6: Avalanche at Lightning, Sunday, June 26 (If Necessary)
Game 7: Lightning at Avalanche, Tuesday, June 28 (If Necessary)
2022 Stanley Cup Series Price at BookMaker.eu
Colorado Avalanche -173 / Tampa Bay Lightning +154
Just when you think their run is coming to an end the Lightning show their championship mettle. They were written off after losing their playoff opener 5-0 to Toronto and trailed 3-2 before winning Game 6 in overtime and claiming Game 7 in Toronto. Surely they would struggle against the East-best Florida Panthers and their high scoring offense. Welp, not so much. Tampa stunned the hockey world with a four-game sweep allowing a total of three goals to a team that led the NHL during the season averaging more than 4.0 per game.
Another slow start in the East final put Tampa behind two games to none before winning the next four allowing just one goal in each of the last three games. The core of the team that won the previous two Cups is intact with Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy leading the way. Stamkos scored both goals in the Game 6 clincher over the Rangers giving him a team-high nine goals. Kucherov has 23 points in 17 playoff games.
Tampa can score averaging 3.1 goals during the postseason, but they aren’t nearly as lethal as Colorado. The Avalanche average a NHL playoff-best 4.64 goals while going 12-2. They averaged 5.5 goals sweeping the Oilers in the West final and scored at least four goals in 10 of their 12 games. You could say Colorado caught some goaltending breaks this postseason. Nashville was without starter Juuse Saros in the first round, St. Louis lost Jordan Binnington to injury in Game 3 of the second round and Edmonton had goalie issues all season.
Still, there is plenty of talent on the Avalanche roster with Nathan MacKinnon tallying 11 goals and 18 points. Cale Makar anchors the defense and power play with a team-high 22 points. Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have each notched 17 points. The offense will benefit from having Nazem Kadri in the lineup. He was hurt in the Edmonton series after notching 14 points in 13 games and could return at some point.
The edge has to go to Tampa with Vasilevskiy between the pipes. A rough start against the Rangers was attributed to a lengthy period of rest after he limited the high-scoring Panthers to just three goals in the second round series. And he was sharp against the Rangers once he got into a groove. Last season’s playoff MVP allowed five goals in the last four games with a .955 save percentage. It’s safe to say he and the Tampa D will be the biggest threat to Colorado’s chances.
We may not know who Tampa’s backup goalie is, but we know the Avalanche have a solid tandem in net with Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz. Kuemper was the starter until he exited the Edmonton series with an injury. Francouz was steady in his place leading to the sweep and even pitched a shutout in Game 2. The Oilers scored 13 goals combined in the other three games proving Colorado isn’t quite as good keeping the puck out of their net.
Lightning vs. Avalanche Free Picks
They may fall behind in a game or series, but Tampa knows what it takes to win in the biggest games. And we saw them clamp down against the Rangers allowing just one equal-strength goal in the last four contests. And they also put the wraps on the highest scoring team in the league in their sweep of Florida. The extended layoff ahead of the series will hurt Colorado, but not as much as the goaltending of Vasilevskiy and the play of the Lightning.
Lightning vs. Avalanche Series Pick: Lightning in 6 Games
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