In terms of storylines and the clout of each team, the 2022 Stanley Cup Final doesn’t get much better than this.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to become the first team since the New York Islanders’ dynasty from 1980-1983 to win three consecutive Stanley Cups, outlasting the upstart Rangers in six games in the Eastern Conference Final to keep their remarkable playoff series victory streak to 11.
Waiting for them has been the Colorado Avalanche, a team that was expected to be here and a heavy preseason favorite to lift the Cup.
They’ve lived up to those expectations, possessing the best record in the Western Conference while breezing through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Colorado has only lost twice, both to the St. Louis Blues in the second round, while sweeping the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers. Game
Let’s get you ready for what is gearing up to be one of the greatest clashes in Stanley Cup Final history:
2022 Stanley Cup Final: Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning schedule
|1||Wednesday, June 15||8 p.m. ET||COL||ABC|
|2||Saturday, June 18||8 p.m.||COL||ABC|
|3||Monday, June 20||8 p.m.||TBL||ABC|
|4||Wednesday, June 22||8 p.m.||TBL||ABC|
|5*||Friday, June 24||8 p.m.||COL||ABC|
|6*||Sunday, June 26||8 p.m.||TBL||ABC|
|7*||Tuesday, June 28||8 p.m.||COL||ABC|
- Cale Makar, D: 5 goals, 17 assists, 22 points, 27:05 ATOI in 14 playoff games
- Nathan MacKinnon, C: 11 goals, 7 assists, 18 points in 14 playoff games
- Gabriel Landeskog, LW: 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points in 14 playoff games
Tampa Bay leaders
- Nikita Kucherov, RW: 7 goals, 16 assists, 23 points in 17 playoff games
- Steven Stamkos, C: 9 goals, 6 assists, 15 points in 17 playoff games
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, G: 12-5, .928 SV%, 2.27 GAA in 17 playoff games
2022 Stanley Cup Final odds
2022 Stanley Cup Final picks, breakdown
- The Pick: Avalanche in 7 games (4-3)
- Conn Smythe Trophy winner (Stanley Cup Final MVP)
We thought that the Florida Panthers would dethrone the Lightning during the second round and even toyed with the idea of the fall in the Eastern Conference Final after the Rangers went up 2-0 and held a 2-0 lead in the second period of Game 3.
But Tampa keeps on coming back, which is a testament to how good of a team this is — and how historic their footprint on the game will be regardless of what happens in this series.
Still, this feels like the end of their run at a dynasty as the Avalanche have looked unbeatable throughout stretches of the postseason.
Not only have they lost just twice this postseason, but they’ve outscored their opponents 65-40 for an NHL-best +25 goal differential.
They have four of the top 10 points getters in the postseason thus far (Makar, MacKinnon, Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen), but they have the defensive organization and depth to limit the chances that will be coming goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s way.
Kuemper should be back in between the pipes after an injury held him out of the Western Conference Final, though it didn’t matter much against an Oilers team that couldn’t crack the Colorado code.
Tampa, however, is a completely different animal compared to the Oilers.
The Lightning will be going from facing one of the best goalies in the league in Igor Shesterkin to Kuemper, who has been pedestrian throughout these playoffs. That alone is promising for the two-time defending champs.
They also know how to win low-scoring, gritty games while keeping high-powered attacks at bay — a testament to the blue line led by Victor Hedman and the great Andrei Vasilevskiy in the crease.
Will it be enough to slow down the Avalanche? I don’t think so, but anyone who thinks this will be a walk for Colorado will probably be sorely mistaken.