By: Victor Herrera
Headline Photo Credit: NHL.com
The Stanley Cup Final is set. The two teams who will go head-to-head for the cup, come as no surprise. The young Colorado Avalanche will face the veteran core Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Avalanche are making their first appearance since 2001, which is also the last time they won the championship. The Avalanche currently only have held the cup twice in their existence. The Tampa Bay Lightning is no new team when it comes to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Lightning has reached the Stanley Cup Finals for a third consecutive time. The Tampa Bay are shooting for their fourth Stanley Cup as well as the third in a row.
If you sweep two teams in the playoffs with one being the Edmonton Oilers, then you could be considered the best team in the NHL. This is exactly what Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche did. Their speed on both ends of the ice has allowed them to find the success needed to finally get over the playoff hump into the finals. The key to this Avalanche team is to not get into a scoring battle. In two of the four wins against the Oilers, the avalanche gave up at least 5 goals. When you are going up against a tough goalie like Andrei Vasilevskiy, your chances of having high-scoring games will drop significantly. If they rely on heavy offense, this could expose the goalie situation as Darky Kuemper has missed due to an injury. Colorado must play solid defense and produce more than 30 shots on goal per game. If the Avalanche offense becomes stagnant at any time, they could find themselves coming up short of the cup.
The Lightning finds themselves in familiar territory. They have made it to the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive time. The experience of the veterans helps make this team what they are. After being down by two games early to the Rangers. This veteran core got things together and won 4 straight to earn their trip to the finals. The key for the Lightning is very simple, rely on the veterans and disrupt the Avalanche speed. Tampa Bay’s defense has helped them overcome deficits already this postseason. They have done this by generating offense while a man is down and playing suffocating defense. If the Lightning can play at the pace they want to while controlling the puck and cause confusion in the young core of the Avalanche they will be the champion for the 3 straight times.
My pick for this year’s Stanley Cup finals is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The injury to Darcy Kuemper of the Avalanche will have an impact on the series, in a way that will only help the Lightning. I believe Brayden Point will come back and the veteran core will lead way. They will produce suffocating defense and create scoring opportunities when on the penalty kill. Not only will the Lightning win their third consecutive and fourth in franchise history. Pat Marron will win his fourth consecutive, his first came with the St. Louis Blues in 2019. Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup in 6 games