Game 3 ended as the worst playoff defeat for the Avalanche during their quest for the cup after the Tampa Bay Lightning dominated them by a score of 6-2. Colorado scrambled to find answers during a second period that featured four goals for the opposition. No matter how many times Jared Bednar shook the eight ball, the message read, “try again” for the rest of the evening.
Tampa Bay isn’t going to go quietly into the night as the Oilers and Predators did. Colorado Avalanche players and fans should realize that now. The question is, how will Colorado respond to getting dominated? Can they replicate the poise and resolve that the Lightning displayed in Game 3 after they suffered a 7-0 defeat?
So over anecdotal
Throughout this series, I’ve been dying on a specific hill. Perhaps it’s a mountain that I’ve made from a molehill. Nonetheless, my stance has been this; I don’t think the dialogue around this Stanley Cup matchup should rely on anecdotal and meaningless statistics. We heard over and over about the Lightning being 18-1 after a defeat in the playoffs. Then we watched the Avalanche dominate Game 2 from start to finish. The dialogue shifted to, “the Avalanche are undefeated on the road; here comes the sweep.” Then what happened? You can’t rely on the past to predict the future, at least not when the stakes are this high, and not in a matchup that features such quality teams.
The Avalanche are 13-2 in the playoffs. See I can do that too. Difference is I know this anecdote doesnt matter in terms of game 2’s results. These teams have played each other a whole 5 times in three years.— Adrian Hernandez (@AdoHernandez27) June 17, 2022
Can we count on national pundits when it comes to in-depth analysis? https://t.co/ozcCUGSIFR
If we look closely at this matchup and turn down the low-hanging fruit of the previous outcomes, you’ll see two evenly matched teams. You’ll also see two teams struggling through some bumps and bruises. Depth has been the story of this series, with each group being exploited as guys leave the lineup due to injury. So which team will get more relief in this department as the series wears on?
The Avalanche could see the return of forward Nazem Kadri as early as Game 4. Andre Burakovsky didn’t make the trip to Tampa and is still in Denver receiving treatment but will skate later today or tomorrow. If one or both of these players can return and play to form, that would heavily benefit the Avalanche and depth contribution. Losing Burky to injury in Game 2 forced Colorado to split up the third forward line that had been dominating. The return of either Burky or Kadri would allow the Avalanche to return to previous matchups.
Nazem Kadri is doing some shooting pic.twitter.com/nG9R2xTfKB— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) June 20, 2022
The Lightning saw the return of Brayden Point for Games 1 and 2 but he was not in the lineup in Tampa. Victor Hedman, Corey Perry, and Nikita Kucherov all look a bit banged up with each taking a noticeable amount of time to return to the bench on numerous occasions. This won’t break a team like Tampa, but it will definitely bend them to the brink.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he thinks Nikita Kucherov will be able to play in Game 4 tomorrow.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) June 21, 2022
He said Brayden Point is day to day but “highly doubtful” he plays tomorrow
Where there’s a will
Game 4 will be the 10th game in 22 days for the Lightning, while Colorado will play their eighth game that same timeframe. The deeper this series goes, the more those two days will add up in favor of Colorado, although both sides will be affected by the grueling requirements of a final. Each team will have to find the will to win as their respective playoff runs get more and more physically demanding. Neither team can afford to “just not have it” due to being mentally exhausted.
The Lightning will look to become the first team in NHL history to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.— Kyle Burger (@kyle_burger) June 19, 2022
Jon Cooper: "I'm not questioning our team. They're ballers in there. Move on to Game 3." #GoBolts #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/L51ibBtp77
In the end, all the cliches surrounding the Stanley Cup will remain valid. It will have been a trial of attrition. It will be a trying journey that ends with the crowning of the league’s most deserving and resilient team, not the league’s most talented team. The intangibles will separate these teams in the future, which is the best way to look at it. Can Colorado win by way of not being denied?