clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Unheralded Avalanche heroes

Cogliano, Byram and Francouz were each necessary to cross the finish line.

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It takes each and every single player on the roster’s contributions to earn a championship and in hockey’s physical grind style war of attrition, it takes extra effort from everyone to lift the Stanley Cup. A lot has been said about the journey, special performances, and sacrifices from the likes of Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri, Val Nichushkin, Erik Johnson, and Cale Makar but there’s also a forward, defenseman, and goaltender who each deserve to have their playoff runs highlighted.

The Warrior

When Andrew Cogliano first arrived in Colorado it was thought that he would add an extra option to the bottom six and while he did not average over 10 minutes a night during this postseason his contributions were very valuable to the team. Three of his six points including a goal came in the final series against Tampa Bay and Cogliano was an important cog on the very successful penalty kill. There was also the time missed, the first game of the Final, due to a broken middle finger and subsequent surgery for blocking a shot in the final game against Edmonton. Cogliano’s determination led to him getting back in the lineup just over a week later.

His calming presence and great attitude has also been a welcome addition to the tight-knit Avalanche group and there were reports of him bringing the team together and a speech before the Cup-clinching Game 6 in Tampa. After 1,140 regular-season games and a Stanley Cup Final defeat in his career Cogliano finally finished his season as a champion and a well-earned accomplishment at that.

The Rock

There were many reasons to feel elation watching Bowen Byram hoist the Stanley Cup considering everything he’d gone through battling concussions and his return to the game. Byram wasn’t just a bystander in this magical Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup run, he steadily took on a larger role and more responsibility until he played just shy of 26 minutes in the Cup-clinching Game 6 including over 10 minutes in the third period alone while the team defended a one-goal lead. Samuel Girard’s injury was the opportunity but Byram took those minutes and then some as he was up to over 23 minutes on average against the Tampa Bay Lightning by the end of the run in an incredible and consistent winning defensive performance.

While Byram did not score that elusive goal despite hitting the post several times he was able to contribute nine points in his 20 games with eight of them coming at even strength including the primary assist to MacKinnon in the tying goal of the Stanley Cup-clinching game. His analytics were strong including 63.3% expected goals and 60% Corsi For plus Byram was only on the ice for nine goals scored against the entire playoff run with 24 for at even strength. While Byram’s steady contributions were noticeable the fact that he became such a pillar on a championship winning defense has flown much more under the radar. The future is bright for Byram but the present was pretty darn good, too.

The Insurance

Pavel Francouz was more than “just a backup” in net as he was tasked with not only emergency game relief but had to close out the two series against the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers after Darcy Kuemper was injured and could not continue. Francouz had a perfect 6-0 record including a shutout of the Oilers and won each of the series-clinching games on the road.

It is probably no coincidence the Avalanche were able to hoist the Stanley Cup because their goaltending tandem stayed intact through the full 20-game journey and Francouz provided more than adequate play in the stretches where he was asked to take the reins. His .906 save percentage is likely why more accolades were not given to him because he did not have to put in a game-stealing performance. However, the team did not ask that of him or Kuemper by keeping the shots against low and required just enough saves to win the game. Francouz ‘s calm demeanor and positive attitude also went long way toward lifting the team’s spirits when needed.