Moves from Avalanche Chaser to Front-Runner in NHL Finals

Moves from Avalanche Chaser to Front-Runner in NHL Finals

DENVER – The first game of the Stanley Cup final is described as an opponent who reached the current champion. In the second game, the opponent flew straight into the past.

The Colorado Avalanche, predicted by many a few years ago to climb the ladder to NHL greatness, have two wins left to win the Stanley Cup after beating defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 on Saturday. I felt like the next party.

Now the question is: Can the Tampa Bay Rangers revive themselves as they did in the Eastern Conference final after a short 2-0 series lead? Or is the world of hockey witnessing the transfer of power from a dignified but exhausted champion to a young, dynamic team of the future? Was Game 2 an aberration, or did Colorado come in faster than everyone expected?

“They’re playing at an elite level right now, give them credit,” Yildirim coach John Cooper said. “We’re not.”

The hardest part for Colorado is still ahead. The next two games, including Game 3 on Monday night, are at sea level in Tampa, Florida, and for three seasons no team has yet found a way to knock out the champion. Tampa Bay has won 11 consecutive playoffs, but Avalanche has the appearance of a different creature.

Some of the Lightning players who made it to the finals admitted that Colorado would be the best team they would face in this championship race. But they never intended to say that Avalanche was better. Although there are two games in the series, Colorado looks faster, more dangerous, fresher and more loyal.

“There is a fine line between respecting your opponent and over-respecting your opponent,” said Yildirim’s captain Steven Stamkos. “We have to understand that we came here for a reason. Let’s go back to our game and understand that they have an incredible team with great skill in every position. But so do we. Let’s find out what we’re up to when they get home. “

It is becoming increasingly clear what Colorado consists of. The team, led by world-class game builder Nathan McKinnon and transcendent, puck-moving defender Kyle Makar, also has a crazy support staff. This includes strikers Mikko Rantanen, Andre Burakovsky, Gabriel Landeskog and Valerie Nichushkin, who scored twice in the second game, as well as defender Devon Touz. All of them are under 30 years old.

Yildirim, the second-oldest middle-aged man on any team in the NHL, has relied on his experience over the past few years to outperform his opponents, but it can be a loss to gain all that experience.

Going into the depths of the postseason for two years in a row, Tampa Bay has played more games than any other team during this time, and any possible fatigue can be heightened during the 1st and 2nd Games. Denver sits about a mile above sea level. level may affect Lightning’s output. If so, it may help to return to sea level for Games 3 and 4.

They need it. After the first game in extra time, Yildirim spoke about better understanding how Avalanche played. But it was Colorado that increased its advantage with a new set of achievements.

It became the second team after the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Stanley Cup final by more than seven goals, beating the Minnesota Northern Stars 8-0 in Game 6. that year.

Colorado also became the third team to score seven goals four times in a postseason, joining Edmonton Oilers, who did it six times in 1984 and five times in 1985, at a time when goals were being scored faster than they do today.

With Makar scoring twice in Game 2, Avalanche’s blue liners are a record for Colorado defenders with 17 goals (seven by Makar) and 61 points in these playoffs. Makar scored with a short hand and added another goal in the power game, making him the second NHL defender to score on either side of the men’s advantage in the Stanley Cup final. Glenn Wesley of the Boston Bruins did this in 1988 against Edmonton.

Colorado has won seven consecutive playoff games, including sweeping the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals, and is a 7-0 away – a witch who reached peak speed in Game 2 of the Finals.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said: “Of course it was close to the perfect game you could get from the players.”

Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevsky, who is usually an excellent goalkeeper, has borne the brunt of the attack, allowing him to score more goals than he ever gave up in a post-season game. Most of it was not his fault. Colorado’s poor pace helped create a number of premium chances, some of which Vasilevsky saved with remarkable agility.

“We hung it up to dry,” Stamkos said. We owe it to him to play better in the next game. “

Vasilevsky has not changed in the playoffs since 2018, 77 games in a row, and Cooper said he has no plans to remove him from Game 2.

“Even if I get out, I don’t think he’ll get out,” Cooper said. “It simply came to our notice then. That’s why he’s the best. “

Stamkos said it was time for all Yildirim players to “stand up” and veteran defender Victor Hedman said the team would deal with it at home. But what surprised Cooper was the lack of momentum against the team that approached him.

Although very different from the Avalanche Rangers, Cooper said Yildirim could use his experience against New York by suddenly reversing the course at home.

“We wrote a story,” Cooper said. “Now we have to write something else.”

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