NHL Finals: Column by Alain Sanscartier on the Lightning versus Avalanche duel

SPECIAL COLLABORATION

After losing 6-2 and 3-2 in the Eastern Finals to the New York Rangers, Jon Cooper’s team showed great signs of maturity on the mental map in this collective triumph over individuals.

The Lightning have made the necessary sacrifices from within to get into the winners’ circle, winning their last four games from a 2-0 deficit against Gerard Gallant’s team.

By deciding to prioritize the words “discipline,” “collective effort,” and “mutual commitment” throughout this series, the Lightning limited the opposition to just five small goals scored in their last four games. This is the perfect example of the great desire that exists in this locker room to compete in the Stanley Cup Grand Final for the third year in a row and to defend the title earned over the past two seasons.

A strength of character and a “buy-in” from the four corners of the dressing room that is well present in this serious test of the adversities imposed on them by certain opponents since the start of the current series. Considering that the Lightning are the opponents to beat after defending their title for the last two seasons, the will of the other teams was great.

Instead of panicking from within with the departures of Barclay Goodrow (to Rangers), Blake Coleman (to Calgary) and Yanni Gourde (to Seattle), a 3e Trio who were instrumental in the successes of founding Saint Petersburg, Fla. in 2020-2021, the senior leaders simply refocused on the organizational culture and connected to the difficulties of the moment.

They had choices to make in this search for the missing links, a matter of adding good complements to graft onto that core of players who wanted nothing less than to win their third consecutive league title.

Management, expertly led by General Manager Julien BriseBois, has shown unwavering faith in its group of veterans. It nevertheless decided to make some staff transfers by the transaction deadline, but without exaggeration, entrusting certain internal staff, developed within the organization itself, with expanded roles and responsibilities in order to appropriately balance the balance of power.

Those acquisitions and after-hours promotions from the inside have certainly given the Tampa Bay Lightning the coveted notion of depth for a team that strives for the highest honors.

Pure wisdom without deviating from the team’s primary identity, even if the aging formation has lost some of its pace over time. In Tampa Bay we play a lot more responsible hockey with and without the puck.

The team, led by Jon Cooper and his hockey stick with the greatest finesse, handled the various critical moments with flying colors. This team inspires the greatest confidence in moments of great heat, they seem to be fueled by adversity.

This victory over the New York Rangers commemorates the series against the Boston Bruins in August 2020 (COVID-19 period), when the Lightning trailed 1-0 in the series, only to concede just seven small goals in the semifinals Meeting the series to finally win.

Lightning advantage in the final

The players of this franchise have long understood the principle that “Offence wins games, but defense wins championships.” An old adage that always seems to serve well.

We have to admit that this tight-knit team shows signs of a group on a mission, full of confidence and strength of character, leading to a sense of security in the face of difficult moments and great trials.

Will that be enough for the Lightning to take advantage of their next opponent, powerhouse Colorado Avalanche? This has yet to be confirmed.

One thing is for sure, we’re entitled to what promises to be one of the most interesting clashes between the champions of today (Lightning) and those who inevitably appear on the horizon to become the NHL’s next force (Avalanche ).

The Colorado Avalanche: Progress and the Hunger for Victory!

One thing straight away: There is no comparable position as a goalkeeper. The Tampa Lightning have a clear advantage at net with the presence of Andrei Vasilevskiy without taking anything away from the duo of Darcy Kumper and Pavel Francouz. There is, after all, a disturbing grain of sand in the courtyard of the avalanche.

On the other hand, the management of the Colorado Avalanche, led by general manager Joe Sakic, has shown patience over the past few seasons in Management 101 and in the process of bringing a formation to maturity that aspires to the big honors.

Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Edmonton Oilers Fallout From the beginning of this series, the Colorado lineup has been fueled by this opportunity to show itself as a serious contender for the highest honors.

Jared Bednar’s squad have made some very good additions both in the last transaction phase and over the past few years which has had the effect of encouraging confidence and progression in this group.

After being knocked out in the second round of the playoffs (vs. Dallas in 2020 and v. Vegas in 2021) in the last two campaigns, the Avalanche had to face this momentary adversity that very likely will have served as a great learning to jump better back and most importantly learn what it took to win.

A harsh reality that inevitably led to a more critical look from within, both at the individual level and at organizational alignments. An essential questioning in the desire to achieve the ultimate goal of questioning what could be improved.

Today the Colorado Avalanche are in their best clothes. Leadership, depth (despite the loss of Kadri) and the balance between skill players and players developing in very specific roles is a matter of distributing power. We see a formation full of talent.

Colorado is using a break of about ten days after its quick win over the Edmonton Oilers and could have some distinct advantage in this Stanley Cup final.

In conclusion, we witness a final pit stop on one side of the Tampa Bay Lightning on a mission that presents themselves as defending champions with every intention of repeating the achievements of the past two seasons, and on the other side the Colorado Avalanche a most talented team, drooling over the goal of winning the Holy Grail and thereby ending the opponent’s domination.

Happy finale to all!

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