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2022 Stanley Cup Finals Tampa Bay vs Colorado: Preview and Prediction

Finals Preview!
TAMPA, FL - JUNE 11: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save during the NHL Hockey Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers on June 11th, 2022 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Florida (Photo by Andrew Bershaw /Icon_Sportswire)

Stanley Cup Finals

The 2022 Stanley Cup Final will see the Tampa Bay Lightning face off against the Colorado Avalanche. Game 1 is set for Wednesday at the Ball Arena in Denver.

Tampa Bay is aiming to be the first team since the 1980s New York Islanders, to win three consecutive Stanley Cups. It also wants to be the only franchise in the salary cap era to do this.

After three consecutive seasons of losing in round two of the playoffs, Colorado is finally getting over its hump. Check out the best bookmakers for betting on the Stanley Cup Finals!

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Offense

This is an obvious choice. The Lightning is skilled, but they can’t match the Avalanche. Colorado swept Edmonton in the third round and beat Edmonton 22-13 in four games.

The Avs average 4.64 goals per match in these playoffs — half a point more than the Penguins (4.14). They have scored at least five goals in seven of their postseason games. This includes Game 1 against Edmonton when they had eight pucks in the net. Tampa Bay is at the middle of the pack with 3.06 goals per match (8th best) during the playoffs.

Defense

Cale Makar, one of the NHL’s best young defensemen, leads Colorado with 22 points. This ranks sixth in the playoffs. Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel MacKinnon are close behind with at least 17 points each.

Brayden Point and Nazem Kadri’s health will play a major role in this series. Kadri underwent surgery two weeks ago to repair a thumb injury. He had been cross-checked in Game 3 against the Oilers. Kadri, a soon-to-be free agent center, was having a great year and continuing his high-caliber play with 14 points in 13 games.

Point, on the other side, has not returned to action since his awkward fall in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. There has been some optimism that Point might be able to play in the Finals.

In their two Cup runs, the Lightning has proven they can play any type of game. Tampa Bay beat two of the top offenses of the regular season, the Florida Panthers and the Leafs while being dominant in their defensive style against the New York Rangers. Check out the top new sportsbooks for betting on the NHL!

Despite that, I still give the edge to the Avalanche in this series on offense. They have home-ice advantage in the series and scored at least four goals in their three previous games at Ball Arena.

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Special teams

Like when they played the Rangers, the Lightning is not getting any breaks from this Colorado powerplay unit. At 31.1 per cent, the Avalanche is only second to the Blueshirts in powerplay percentage this postseason. The Avalanche powerplay could go 2-for-14 against the Oilers in Games 1-3 and 4, but it came up big in Game 4 when they needed it. It went 2-for-2 during Game 4, which helped them overcome a 4-2 deficit.

Tampa Bay was again middle-of-the-pack as it currently holds the eighth-best powerplay percentage of 22.6 per cent. This is after it went 3 for 14 against New York. While both teams boast some of the most talented individual players in the league, Point is still out for the Lightning as a unit, so I’m sticking with the Avalanche.

Tampa Bay has a slight advantage in terms of penalty-kill.

Goaltending

The net will be the biggest matchup in this series. Vasilevskiy, the Lightning’s netminder, is undoubtedly the best on the planet. The 2021 ConnSmythe winner has proven that he is always on top when it matters despite slow starts in the Leafs and Rangers series. The 2012 first-rounder currently holds a 2.27 goals-against-average (GAA) and a .928 save percentage.

Prediction

Since the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, when the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins met in the Final, we haven’t seen such star power from both sides.

My question in this series is: Can Colorado overcome Vasilevskiy’s talent and greatness? The Avalanche have yet to face a goaltender like him in the playoffs. Last round, the Avalanche met Mike Smith, a 40-year-old goaltender. He took on Ville Husso in Game 3. Blues’ starter Jordan Binnington was injured in Game 3. Juuse Saros, a Vezina Trophy finalist, was hurt in the regular season. The Predators’ goalies David Rittich (round one) and Connor Ingram (round 1) were also used. Pick Lightning in Six games

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