DENVER — Our 2022 Stanley Cup finals matchup is set between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Avalanche got it done in a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals while the Lightning got it done in six games against the Rangers in the East, winning four straight after being down 0-2 after the first two games of the series.
This is a matchup of two teams who can get up and down the ice quickly.
On the Locked On Sports Today podcast, Locked On NHL host Gil Martin joined Peter Bukowski to analyze the matchup and preview the Stanley Cup finals.
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So what will ultimately decide this matchup?
“This is going to be a dream matchup with two very talented teams," Martin said on Locked On Sports Today. "If the NHL could draw it up, this is what they would have wanted. I think it may come down to defense more than anything else. I think the Avalanche have a very mobile defense and can move the puck quickly. But the Lightning have a better goaltender and more experience. Whichever team can shut down the opposition’s offense will end up winning.”
The Avalanche meanwhile are coming in red hot, coming off a sweep of the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals. How much of a factor will momentum play in this series?
“I think it’s an advantage for the Avalanche in the sense that they are on a roll and they had some injuries and this break they have had will give some of their players like Nazem Kadri and Darcy Kuemper a chance to get healthy and play in the finals," Martin said. "That works in their favor."
If you’re the Lightning, there’s a been-there-done-that advantage. But there also might be an urgency factor for the Avalanche. The hunger might not be the same. How could this play out in the finals?
“I think it could give the Avalanche an advantage," Martin said. "They were the favorites. They won the President’s trophy with the best record in the league for two years prior and couldn’t get it done in the playoffs…You have to lose in order to learn how to win sometimes. The Avalanche are hungry, they realize that a window doesn’t last forever and this may be their last great chance.”
On one hand you have a team that has won two straight Stanley Cups coming into this and on the other, you have a team that has had the roster over the last several years but that has stumbled earlier on in the playoffs.
“I am leaning the Lightning but it’s very close," Martin said. "The Lightning have two big advantages over Colorado and number one is the goaltending. Andrei Vasilevskiy, arguably the best goaltender in the NHL. And the other one is experience. They’ve won back to back Stanley Cups, they’re looking to become the first team to win three-straight since the Islanders did it in the early 1980s.”
This marquee matchup begins on Wednesday, June 15 at 8 p.m. E.T.
Meanwhile, subscribe to our Locked On Avalanche and Locked On Lightning podcasts for expert insight heading into the Stanley Cup Finals and throughout!