With the only multi-day break in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final occurring between Games 1 and 2, both the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to process the events of a tight first game and adjust for the rest of the series. The Colorado Avalanche took a crucial overtime win at home to kick off the series, but both teams had their own flashes of brilliance to open the series.
As the Lightning have shown so far in these playoffs, though, no series lead against them is safe. One thing they can count on is the improvement of two important players: Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Point had an assist in 17:59 of ice time in Game 1, his first game in over a month and first game since the First Round. As he gets back to game speed, his ice time and compete level will only go up throughout the series, making the matchups tougher for the Avalanche and Jared Bednar. Vasilevskiy was also noticeably off his game at points on Wednesday, having issues tracking some pucks early in the game. He settled in, though, and as he has throughout these playoffs, will only get better as the series goes on.
The Avalanche are still waiting on Nazem Kadri to return to the lineup, who continues to practice and improve as he battles a thumb injury. Even if/when Kadri returns, he won’t be at 100%, and with how well the unit of Valeri Nichushkin, J.T. Compher, and Andre Burakovsky performed in Game 1, it might be better to try Kadri in a more limited role regardless. That would surely help the matchup game for Bednar, who would suddenly have a huge weapon to throw out with his depth forwards. Andrew Cogliano was also a full participant in today’s practice and could return for Game 2 on Saturday.
The question remains: will the Avalanche be able to hold onto their series lead and end the Tampa Bay run of championships despite their injuries and disadvantage in the crease? We ask you, PHR readers, to give us your take. Vote who you think will win the 2022 Stanley Cup Final in the poll below.
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Tampa has the better goalie, going to be hard to get 4+ goals on him every night even with all the firepower’s Colorado has. Also depends on when Kadri gets back.