Updated: Jul 16
The Colorado Avalanche are your 2022 Stanley Cup Champions after defeating the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 to win their first title since 2001. The Avalanche showed resilience after losing 3-2 to the Lightning in Game 5 to clinch it at home, but they were able to get the job done in Tampa Bay to avoid a Game 7 where anything could happen. Avalanche defenseman, Cale Makar, would be named the postseason MVP by receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Makar remarked postgame that, "We knew the job that we had to do, but we needed to just talk about staying mentally locked in and not looking too far ahead. It was [Andrew Cogliano] and [Gabriel Landeskog] and [Nathan MacKinnon] speaking and basically just calming the guys down and making sure that regardless of the outcome, just put it all out there and see where the game lies, and that's kind of where our minds were at.”
He continued with "I felt like throughout this whole game, our mentality was just win that period and win the next one, get the next shift and so on, and we were never looking too far ahead to the outcome -- and we definitely feel like we earned that one." Makar was extremely impactful throughout the postseason, finishing third overall in scoring with eight goals and 29 points throughout 20 games this postseason.
Makar, who was named the Norris Trophy winner last week (given to the top defenseman each year) and was the first unanimous Smythe winner since the Hockey Writers Association started tracking the votes five years ago. It has to feel good for a young superstar in Makar to cap off the season with a championship.
It also has to feel good for guys like MacKinnon, Landeskog, and others who've seen the whole journey of the Avalanche’s rise from the bottom in 2016-17 to the Stanley Cup Champions five seasons later. The Avalanche had a tremendously talented squad despite having injuries to key guys such as Andre Burakovsky (broken ankle), Nazem Kadri (broken thumb), Valeri Nichushkin (broken foot). I mean look at Nichushkin’s foot! https://twitter.com/Peter_Baugh/status/1541451929359974401?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1541451929359974401%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdenverfan.com%2F2099135%2Fyou-have-to-see-the-brutal-foot-injury-valeri-nichushkin-played-through%2F Talk about pure toughness and grit to tolerate such pain.
All in all, this is a high powered offense with tremendous young talent the Avalanche have, which could be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. They are already the favorites to win next season https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/34154084/colorado-avalanche-open-favorites-win-2023-stanley-cup and should be a threat for years to come.