Congrats to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche for being the last two teams standing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. These playoffs have been exciting, with five game 7s in the first round, but these two teams have steamrolled their way into the final battle.
Regular Season Finale
The regular season finale was a battle between Vegas and the LA Kings. The Kings took advantage of their easy end of season schedule and the Golden Knights collapsed with inexplicable losses and shootout struggles. It just wasn't their year.
The Nashville Predators dropped to the final wildcard slot blowing a 3-0 lead to the horrible Arizona Coyotes in the last game of the season, which set them up for a matchup with the Avs in the first round. The series was over before it started.
Stanley Cup Playoffs recap
This year's Stanley Cup Playoffs have been exciting, with five game 7s in the first round!
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have put on an absolute show, along with Evander Kane's incredible goal scoring, to lead the Oilers to the conference finals, before getting steamrolled by the Avs.
The Rangers were also a major storyline, finally making the playoffs after years of irrelevance and made it all the way to the conference finals after two hard fought game seven victories.
Some things seemingly never change, like the highly talented Maple Leafs losing in another first round, this time against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a series they had a 3-2 lead.
How the Avalanche and Lightning won
However, the real story of these playoffs are obviously the success of the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Avalanche steamrolled their way through the competition, going 12-2 in the playoffs. The Avalanche overwhelmed the whole league in the regular season and playoffs with supreme speed and supreme depth. The Avalanche overwhelmed every team, led by superstars Nathan McKinnon and Cale Makar.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are hungry for a third straight championship. There were moments where the Lightning's quest was in danger, when the Lightning were down 3-2 in games in their first round series against Toronto, and when the Rangers held a 2-0 lead in the critical game 3 of a series Tampa was losing 2-0 in games. Yet the Lightning with all of their championship pedigree, overcame every obstacle.
Stanley Cup Finals Preview
Two dominant teams have collided. The Avalanche's display of overwhelming speed, talent, and depth have collided with the Lightning's impenetrable defense, goaltending, and a balanced scoring attack.
What happens when an unstoppable force (Colorado Avalanche) meets an immovable object (Tampa Bay Lightning)? Both teams are championship caliber but only one team can win. The other has to go home heartbroken.
This is the battle of the game's two best defenseman, Cale Makar and Victor Hedman. This is the battle of offensive superstars on both sides and the battle of championship caliber depth scorers who have scored critical goals for both teams.
The Lightning have the game's best goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the Avalanche have been so dominant they haven't needed game-changing goalies, only goalies that make the right saves at the right time. Who wins?
I don't have a confident prediction here, because both teams can legitimately win the Stanley Cup. My pick keeps changing every time I think about the series. In the end, it comes down to a gut feeling.
Give me the championship pedigree and elite goaltending over the unstoppable force. The Lightning just might be able to find a way, once again.
Buckle up, were headed for an exciting Stanley Cup Finals