Tonight could be the night, folks. The Stanley Cup will officially be In The Building. The Colorado Avalanche, after a comeback overtime win on the road in Game 4, can secure this core’s first Stanley Cup and the franchise’s third and first since 2001. And they can do it on home ice in front of their fans on a Friday night in June. What a party that would be.
If I were a betting man—I’m not, but humor me—I would plop down some money on the Avs getting it done tonight.
The two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning will not go down easily, not by any means. But I think an extremely important factor, one that sometimes gets overlooked when discussing games played in Colorado, is the altitude. The Avalanche are used to it; the Lightning, who play at sea level in one of the most humid areas on the planet, are not. Tampa plays a grinding, exhausting style of hockey to win playoff games, but they struggled to keep up with the high-flying Avalanche at that altitude. And in particular, I think it greatly affects the play of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
I initially called Avalanche in six (or Lightning if it went seven because of Vasilevskiy), but I don’t think I properly accounted for the effect of the altitude. I believe Colorado raises the Cup tonight.
- William Dufour scored for the second straight game in the Memorial Cup, although his Saint John Sea Dogs lost in overtime to the Edmonton Oil Kings. [Islanders]
- Richard Panik, whom the Islanders loaned to the AHL Chicago Wolves, is on the verge of winning the Calder Cup with them and in the city in which he had his best year. Also in this article, I learned that Stefan Noesen, who could not stick in the NHL with the Sharks and Devils, led the AHL with 48 goals this season. Amazing how some guys just fit right in between the skill levels of the NHL and AHL.
- To celebrate Pride, the Islanders share a beautiful love story of two people who met at an Islanders game and initially bonded over hockey. [Islanders]
- This (Yester)Day in Isles History: Garth Snow takes only defensemen at the draft, but one turns out to be Adam Pelech (2012); Anthony Beauvillier caps off the Islanders’ comeback, from down 2-0 to the Lightning in Game 6, with an overtime winner just 1:08 into the extra frame—a goal which turned out to be the last one of the season and the last-ever goal at Nassau Coliseum (2021).
- The Avs can almost taste Lord Stanley’s Cup. The last time the franchise won a Cup, GM Joe Sakic was Captain Joe Sakic. [NHL]
- Jon Cooper and the Lightning have “moved on” from the blown too-many-men call on Nazem Kadri’s Game 4 OT winner. [NHL]
- Their sole focus is staying alive at this point. But this is the biggest hole in which the champs have found themselves. [NHL]
- Only one team, of 36 who have fallen behind 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, has ever come back to win the series. The Lightning, though, seem like a team that could do it. [The Athletic]
- To Justin Bourne, the OT winner was simply a function of the best team getting lucky at the right moment. [Sportsnet]
- David Poile, GM of the Nashville Predators, stated that he offered an eight-year contract to remain with the club. [NHL]
- A Winnipeg Jets writer informs Florida Panthers fans of what they can expect to see with Paul Maurice at the helm. [The Athletic]
- The Jets, meanwhile, face a summer of change. They are still waiting on a decision from Barry Trotz, who reportedly has been offered the coaching gig and the chance to transition later to management. But Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois don’t seem long for Manitoba. [Sportsnet]
- Seemingly out of nowhere, the National Capital Commission (in charge of Ottawa’s development) awarded to the Ottawa Senators the LeBreton Flats land over which the city and Eugene Melnyk bickered. Now that he’s gone, his ego won’t get in the way. [The Athletic]
- Drama! Corey Pronman, in his final 2022 draft rankings, placed Juraj Slafkovsky ahead of long-presumed no. 1 overall pick Shane Wright. [The Athletic]
- A rumor appeared on Twitter that the NHL schedule would be released on July 7, the same day as Round 1 of the draft. [Twitter]
- And finally, in conjunction with E60’s Unrivaled, ESPN spoke with a number of players on both sides of Fight Night at the Joe, when Claude Lemieux broke Kris Draper’s face and cemented a rivalry that began in the previous Western Conference Final. This is a lot of fun. [ESPN]