DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Lightning have more than a Stanley Cup Final tie. They have a history with history.
The Bolts are the first team since the Edmonton Oilers – from 1982-83 to 1984-85 – to reach the Grand Finals for three consecutive years. If they sign four victories at the expense of Avalanche, they would become the first to lift the Stanley Cup three seasons in a row since Mike Posey’s four consecutive New York conquests from 1980 to 1983.
“They want to establish some form of dynasty and we have every intention of stopping them from doing so,” Cal Makar said confidently.
With his teammates from an avalanche, the young defender also intends to do more than just deny the lightning a climb among the biggest clubs in NHL history.
“This final could allow us to start a very special career,” added Makar, who leads his team in scoring with his five goals and 22 points in just 14 matches.
That’s one point less than Rangers’ Adam Fox, who has played six more games. One point behind Lightning’s top scorer, Nikita Kucherov, who has played three more matches.
“Cal is the best defense in the world,” Nathan McKinnon said loudly and clearly as part of the media day during which the captains and players of both teams were presented to reporters Tuesday in Denver.
No Cinderella, only the best
They will now have the opportunity to play Wednesday night – 8pm ET – in the first game of this very difficult final. The first final between the top two league teams since the duels between the Penguins and the Red Wings in 2008 – Detroit win and 2009 – Pittsburgh win.
“To be considered the best, you have to beat the best and Tampa has been the best team in the league in years,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landskog said several times.
His teammate went even further in his approach to the challenge in front of him and his avalanche teammates: “I’m glad we don’t have Team Cinderella in the Grand Finals while the top two teams in the league find themselves head-to-head,” he noted, referring to the person who had the upper hand over Conor McDavid in Western Final.
Will McKinnon now have the upper hand over Nikita Kucherov and Stephen Stamkos? Will he have the chance to cement his place in history with his first Stanley Cup win?
“I only enjoy when I’m on the ice,” McKinnon told reporters, telling reporters he cares little about his place in history.
I want to take McKinnon on his word. But to see the seriousness he has shown since the first game of the first series – against Nashville – which he and his teammates have swept in four small games, to see the seriousness he shows every time he appears to press between games, after win and more after loss, it is clear that McKinnon is in a task.
“He’s an outstanding player, fired his great boss Joe Sakic. He’s able to kick you out of your seat at any point in the game. Not only is he fast, he has an explosion in his speed that puts him in his own category in the league. He’s a player who can change the course of the game in one appearance.” ‘,” added Avalanche’s general manager, giving credit to former teammate and former head coach Patrick Roy, who played a leading role in picking MacKinnon first overall in the 2013 draft.
“Nathan loves the challenge of being the one to turn to when you need a big game,” added Gabriel Landskog. 18,000 fans hold their breath when the game starts because they feel like something is going to happen,” concluded the Avalanche captain.
Memories of 2001
Twenty-one seasons after Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup win, and Joe Sakic’s second, which allowed Raymond Burke to lift the prized trophy first to crown his brilliant career, the general manager has drawn comparisons between the two teams.
“We have been very strong in attack and we still are. We have been very strong on the Blue Line and I think this year we have had the best group of defensive players since 2001. We have added weight and strength on the Blue Line with the acquisition of Josh Manson. We have added depth up front with possession. On Artturi Lehkonen. We needed to strengthen our club to maximize our chances in the qualifiers. We did it and here we are at the grand final,” said Sakic.
If he was careful not to make comparisons between his current rangers – Darcy Quimper and Pavel Francoz – and his keeper at the time, Patrick Roy, who contributed to the twice avalanche achievement, Sakic showed confidence in his current rangers despite their lack of reputation. Roy, or even their opponent in the Grand Final Andrei Vasilevsky.
“Patrick is in my opinion the best goalkeeper in history,” Sakic began when I asked him to talk about the position of his goalkeepers on the eve of the final.
“Not because he is the best goalkeeper in history and because he is such a strong source of confidence for us that we risk attacking. We also played hard hockey in defense against him. Our players will do it again this year in front of the goalkeepers, as they have done since the start of the qualifiers. I have confidence in the goalkeepers. We have it, and all of our players trust them. Darcy (Komper) got the go-ahead and Pavel (Francus) showed he can do the job too. Besides, each of the goalkeepers has racked up six wins since the start of the qualifiers,” commented Sakic, who finds it difficult to wait Starting the final as a general manager, not as a player.
“As a CEO, you are limited to the role of observer. As a player, I loved the preparations before these big matches. I am nervous, but at the same time I am very happy for our players, because I know what they are going through now.”
As I walked around with the other reporters huddled in front of Darcy Comber, the Avalanche goalkeeper simply said he was ready to take his place. It will be necessary to wait until the end of the morning avalanche training before finding out whether he or Pavel Francos will leave the ice first. Usually a very reliable indication of the identity of the primary goalkeeper.
“I can only say that I was shocked that I had to beat the Western Final. It was far from clear. But Pavel allowed me to deal with the situation by playing strong matches as he did,” concluded Quimper, who retired from the bench in the first game against the Oilers. In the third round.
He also had to lose in the first round after he was hit in the eye by Ryan Johansen’s baton blade that slipped through one of the holes in his mask.
Regardless of whether Kuemper or Francouz face Lightning’s shots in Game 1, it’s of course Vasilevskiy who will stand up to the avalanche.