2022 Stanley Cup Last – What we realized in Sport 2, and the way it impacts the remainder of Avalanche-Lightning sequence
Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final was a back-and-forth thriller, with the Colorado Avalanche successful a 4-Three contest in additional time over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Game 2 was … not practically as thrilling, with the Avs leaping out to an early lead after which pouring it on en path to a 7-Zero win.
The sequence is 2-Zero Colorado because the golf equipment head to Tampa for the subsequent two contests. This is what we realized on Saturday night time, and the way it will affect the remainder of the sequence.
‘D’ is for ‘dominate’
What else are you able to say, actually?
Colorado dismantled Tampa Bay in Sport 2. The Avalanche have been higher in each aspect, from 5-on-5, to particular groups, to goaltending, to offense, protection, battles, races — you title it, Colorado excelled at it. It was stunning, in a method, to see the Lightning seem so discombobulated. There was no level the place Tampa Bay appeared to show a nook and take a look at one thing — something — to cease the bleeding.
The Avalanche stored pushing. The Lightning by no means pushed again.
What does that imply for the reigning champions as this sequence shifts to their turf? Has Tampa Bay’s confidence been cracked? Or is it that the Lightning merely haven’t got the legs to maintain up with Colorado? They would not be the primary group in these playoffs to comprehend it. Even Connor McDavid had his struggles. The Avs at the moment are 14-2 within the playoffs and have a plus-33 aim differential.
Tampa Bay wants its personal stars to step up. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos have not been seen sufficient. Neither has Victor Hedman. Andrei Vasilevskiy is not getting a lot assist, however his struggles are a big a part of the Lightning’s issues.
The Avalanche are rolling because the Lightning are reeling. Will that momentum shift with the sequence? We’ll discover out, quick. — Kristen Shilton
Sport 2 tendencies flop
It will possibly’t be overstated sufficient how uncharacteristic this Sport 2 defeat was for the Lightning.
They have been 9-2 within the second sport of a sequence relationship again to 2020, the beginning of their back-to-back Stanley Cup run. Throughout that 11-game span, they’d by no means given up greater than three objectives in a sport. Andrei Vasilevskiy had a .938 save proportion in these video games; towards Colorado in Sport 2, he gave up seven objectives for a .774 save proportion.
However there was one other massive distinction between the Lightning in these 11 video games and this one: their begins. The Lightning scored the primary aim in 9 of these 11 video games. In these playoffs, the Lightning have been 6-1 when scoring the primary aim. So getting on the board early might have made a giant distinction right here.
As a substitute, their begin was a catastrophe. After an excellent first shift by their checking line, defenseman Erik Cernak fumbled the puck on the blue line. Then the Lightning turned the puck over in their very own zone twice, whereas the referees let a hooking name on the Avalanche towards Alex Killorn go. Then defenseman Ryan McDonagh took a hooking penalty simply 1:01 into the sport, giving the second-best energy play within the playoffs (31.3% effectivity) an opportunity to cook dinner.
It was 1-Zero Avalanche on Valeri Nichushkin‘s aim at 2:54 of the primary interval, and away they went.
“It was an undisciplined penalty by me,” McDonagh stated. “To present a group an influence play within the first minute is rarely an excellent recipe. We misplaced our protection and gave them odd-man seems to be. Any time you do this, you are flirting with catastrophe and hazard. It was a nasty time to have a nasty begin.”
“It was robust taking the penalty,” coach Jon Cooper stated. “We kill it off, they scored with a pair seconds left. So did we deal with that in addition to we might have? In all probability not. Clearly, you guys watch the sport. It was all downhill after that.” — Greg Wyshynski
Cale Makar scores his second aim of the interval to place the Avalanche forward 7-0.
An excessive amount of depth
Colorado’s depth is overwhelming Tampa Bay. It isn’t that Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar or Gabriel Landeskog aren’t doing their half. They’re simply not doing all the injury.
The Avalanche’s help employees are.
In Sport 2, Valeri Nichushkin was arguably (or possibly inarguably) Colorado’s greatest participant. He was an offensive pressure, scoring two objectives and strolling by means of Tampa Bay’s defenses to almost rating a couple of extra. Andre Burakovsky was everywhere in the Lightning after he scored the night time’s first aim. Josh Manson scored off the frenzy. Darren Helm tallied one off a breakaway.
These usually are not the big-name stars Colorado is counting on to energy by means of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. (Sure, Makar did rating twice in Sport 2 however Colorado was already up 5-Zero by then.) It is best for the Avs that they do not want these top-tier gamers to incessantly dominate. The extra Colorado continues to neutralize Tampa Bay’s high skaters and obtain good-looking contributions from each line of its personal, the higher.
Colorado received Andrew Cogliano again within the lineup on Saturday, however there’s nonetheless no phrase on whether or not Nazem Kadri shall be accessible within the Last. The Avalanche will proceed leaning on their depth in his absence, and people gamers have been stepping up up to now. Avs coach Jared Bednar stated earlier than Sport 2 that he prioritized holding Burakovsky in a top-six place, and it paid off. These sorts of instincts for when to raise gamers — like Bednar did placing Nichushkin on the group’s high line — will proceed to play a significant function in Colorado holding Tampa Bay on its heels. — Shilton
There’s actually just one method for the Lightning to decelerate the Avalanche assault, and that is to own the puck greater than they’ll. That will imply fewer possibilities for the Colorado forwards and extra motion in entrance of goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
As a substitute, the Avalanche had a 60-28 shot-attempt benefit in Sport 2. Kuemper’s shutout got here with few (if any) harmful possibilities.
The bellwether for that domination: The Avs’ high line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin didn’t permit a shot try to the Lightning in 8:43 of even-strength ice time.
In the meantime, Steven Stamkos had one shot on aim and Nikita Kucherov didn’t have a shot try within the sport.
Their 16 photographs on aim have been the fewest the Lightning had in any sport this season and their lowest complete within the playoffs since registering 15 photographs on aim towards the Hurricanes in Sport 2 of their 2021 second-round sequence.
“As quickly as we begin turning the puck over and giving them possibilities, that is when the sport form of swayed,” ahead Nick Paul stated. “We’ve to determine a approach to get momentum, get photographs on internet. Not sufficient photographs tonight. We will not rating if we’re not getting any photographs. So be taught from this and be higher.” — Wyshynski
Off and operating
Colorado’s transition sport is giving Tampa Bay suits.
Colorado generated half a dozen Grade-A possibilities within the first interval alone — and one aim from Josh Manson — from odd-man rushes. It begins with nice play by means of the impartial zone, the place the Avalanche are aggressive: They’re breaking apart performs, stealing again pucks and making fast passes that spring their fleet-footed skaters in Andrei Vasilevskiy’s course.
Colorado has defensemen (i.e., Manson) who love becoming a member of the frenzy and know precisely when to do it. Darren Helm’s aim is an effective instance of that too, creating his personal odd-man likelihood simply by anticipating when to make the correct transfer and going for it. The Avalanche aren’t ones to hesitate. It is how they’ve succeeded all season. Colorado’s skaters are so quick, not simply on their skates but in addition of their decision-making. There is a stage of anticipation that skaters have with each other as a play develops. The Avalanche are in complete sync irrespective of who has the puck, and that is permitting them to slide behind the (incessantly undressed) Lightning.
Clearly, Tampa Bay should alter if it needs to return to Denver for Sport 5 (and past). The query is how. Colorado has been doing this to groups for 3 rounds. There’s miles of video to assessment. However seeing it dwell on the ice has been a special story. The Avalanche’s confidence ought to rightly be hovering now too, which is able to solely make the Lightning’s activity in containing them that a lot tougher. — Shilton
Andrei Vasilveskiy stretches out to make a powerful snag within the second interval in an effort to decelerate the Avalanche assault.
Concern for Vasilevskiy?
The very best goalie on the earth has an .838 save proportion within the Stanley Cup Last. The seven objectives Vasilevskiy gave up in Sport 2 are tied for probably the most he has ever allowed in a regular-season or playoff sport.
He is the fourth goalie prior to now 40 years to permit no less than seven objectives within the Stanley Cup Last and play the complete sport. Why not take him out earlier than the third interval?
“Pay attention, that is the playoffs, and we’re right here to win hockey video games. Vasy offers us the most effective likelihood to win a hockey sport and he is our man,” Cooper stated. “He is the most effective goalie on the earth and we win collectively, and we lose collectively. Even when I did [try to replace him], I do not suppose he would’ve come out. That is what a competitor he’s and that is why he is the most effective.”
To a person, the Lightning stated after Sport 2 that Vasilevskiy was the rationale issues weren’t a lot worse within the blowout loss.
“It might have been extra. He made some unbelievable saves. Not at all is that this on him tonight,” Stamkos stated.
The truth that Vasilevskiy remained within the sport regardless of it not being the Lightning’s night time and it very a lot being the Avalanche’s night time earned respect from his teammates.
“He confirmed loads of character staying on this sport. You possibly can’t fault him for any objectives. Some good performs by them,” defenseman Victor Hedman stated.
Stamkos stated the Bolts let their goalie down. “We left him out to dry tonight. He is been our spine for years and years and years. We owe it to him to have a greater sport subsequent sport,” the captain stated. — Wyshynski
Can they catch the Avs?
The velocity benefit was evident once more for the Avalanche. They got here on the Lightning in waves within the attacking zone. They interrupted the whole lot Tampa Bay tried to do offensively. They scored off the frenzy all night time, together with two odd-man rush objectives.
The Lightning knew they needed to counter that velocity after Sport 1. The drawback solely received worse in Sport 2.
“We’ve a sport plan, and it is making an attempt to neutralize their velocity and their forecheck. And we have gotten away from it somewhat bit at occasions, and it price us at occasions,” Stamkos stated.
The Lightning captain stated the Avalanche are the quickest group they’ve performed.
“So we received to discover a approach to gradual them down, there is no query,” Stamkos stated. “However that is a part of our execution too: placing pucks in areas the place you’ll be able to neutralize their velocity, and never turning the puck over not giving them freebies, which I assumed we did tonight. So there is a sport plan with a view to attempt to neutralize their velocity. It is no secret they are a very quick group, so we’ll must discover a approach to do higher.”
However Cooper stated it is not “again to the drafting board” after the Sport 2 loss.
“They’re taking part in at an elite stage proper now. Give them credit score. We aren’t. It is two good groups. They’re simply taking part in at a a lot greater stage than we’re proper now, and I believe it was evident watching that sport tonight. So we now have to raise our play,” he stated. — Wyshynski