Updated: Jul 14
Ahh, the magical run continues for the two-time defending champions, Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the young, talented, restless New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 at home of the Eastern Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning are looking to make history as only the sixth NHL team in history to three-peat as champions. But, they will be going against an offensive juggernaut in the Colorado avalanche who ranked second in points in the league this season, and first in GF/G (goals for/ number of goals), according to https://www.lineups.com/nhl-team-rankings . The Avalanche also were first in FOW% (faceoffs won), and first in PP% (power play percentage).
One of the main reasons for the Avalanche’s lethal offensive attack is because of their star center Nathan MacKinnon, who will finally have a chance to capture a Stanley Cup title with the team that drafted him first overall in 2013 after years of playoff disappointments despite having some quality talent on their team over the years.
Two-time Stanley Cup champion, and veteran star center, who is captain of the Lightning, Steven Stamkos, had high praise for the Avalanche calling them “probably the best team in the league” and that they will be a load to handle for the Lightning even though they were among the top ten defensive teams in goals allowed this season. The Avalanche have a plethora of guys who can score the puck at a high rate from MacKinnon, to right winger Mikko Rantanen (18 points), defenceman Cale Makar (22 points), and left winger Gabriel Landeskog ( 17 points), who have all been incredibly impactful in their offense from scoring for themselves, or playmaking for others, according to https://www.espn.com/nhl/team/stats/_/name/col/colorado-avalanche .
Stamkos continued with praise for the Avalanche after the Lightning closed out the Rangers to clinch their third straight berth to the Stanley Cup Finals by stating, “There’s no secret that they have some electric players, now they’ve broken through. They just have an unbelievable mix of veteran presence, star power, grinders, and a goalie. A huge challenge for us.”
A huge challenge indeed it will be as the Lightning aren’t just the first team to make the Cup Finals three consecutive times since the salary cap began in 2005, but also the first since the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers did it way back from 1983-85. The Lightning are looking to become the first team to three-peat since the New York Islanders did it a whopping four times in a row from 1980-1983.
Having this type of success can prove to be daunting on the body, especially with the physical nature that hockey brings, but, Stamkos believes in his troops as they head into their third straight battle for the crown stating, “Trust, that’s the word, we trust every guy that goes over that boards to do his job. Whether you score a goal or not, it’s the little things that you do. It’s the defending, it’s the blocked shots, it’s the sacrifice, it’s not complaining about your role. It’s just going out and just playing as hard as you can for the next guy that sits beside you in that locker room.”
Trust, chemistry, talent, grit, and mental toughness are the ingredients all championship teams need, and as we approach closer to the faceoff between the Lightning and Avalanche set to begin at 8:00 p.m. eastern time in Colorado, the pressure should only intensify. Can the Avalanche get over the hump and spoil the Lightning’s quest for a three-peat and win their first title in the organization's history? Or will the Lightning prove to the new kids in town that they are still the top dog in the NHL and make their place in history as the sixth team to ever three-peat?
Get your popcorn ready folks, it’s going to be a great one.