Avalanche-Lightning: Point and Kuemper back in Game 1

DENVER — If it’s true that everything comes at the right time, who knows how to wait, the Colorado Avalanche will start the Stanley Cup Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the right foot.

After an eight-day hiatus after the Edmonton Oilers won the Western Final — the fifth-longest in playoff history — Nathan MacKinnon and his teammates are eager to prove they can not only match the Lightning, but give them a third straight conquest withheld .

“We have been preparing our team for this final since the first day of the training camp last fall. Now it’s time to hit the rink, face what lies ahead with confidence, enjoy the moment and prove we’re the best team in the league,” head coach Jared Bednar said after the Avalanche’s morning practice session on Wednesday.

Bednar does not fear the effects of the eight-day break. However, a similar breakthrough slowed the Lightning as they were demoted by the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Finals after a win over the powerful Florida Panthers. The Lightning lost their first two games and were 2-0 down in Game 3 before tipping the game and the streak they then went on to win in six games.

“We’re in a very good position,” Jared Bednar replied when journalists pointed out the possible negative consequences of the break.

“We’re in the same position we were in after our four-game win over Nashville in the first round. We gave the players the rest they needed and then maintained the level of training that gave us a good start to the second half of the season against St. Louis. We are very aware of the challenge ahead of us. We know this team is making their third consecutive Grand Finals appearance. They have talent, experience, depth, they know how to win. But we are ready,” added the head coach of the “Avs”.

After a seven-day break between the first and second rounds, the Avalanche defeated the Blues 3-2 in Game 1 en route to a six-game win over St. Louis.

Darcy Kuemper arrived at the Ball Arena this morning for the goalkeeper in the starting XI. That routine, followed by his retreat to the dressing room before his assistant Pavel Francouz, who was relieved in the Western final, suggests he will return in the case of the first game on Wednesday.

A possibility that Jared Bednar refused to confirm.

Conversely, Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano did not accompany their teammates to morning practice. They just ran before practice and won’t be playing tonight.

“All I can say in their case is that they are subject to daily assessments,” Bednar said.

Injured in one hand, Kadri struggles to hold his cane. However, it is known in the Avalanche’s wake that he will do whatever it takes to return to the game during the finals.

Point to his post

At Lightning Camp, Jon Cooper and his players can count on Brayden Point returning to training.

The author of the winning goal – scored in overtime – that allowed the Lightning to tie the series (3-3) against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, Point suffered a lower-body injury early in the crucial meeting. He hasn’t played since then.

His return will give Jon Cooper more poise to revise his lines and complicate his work on Jared Bednar.

“We’ve been juggling our lines throughout the playoffs and we won’t hesitate to do it again even if Point is back,” Cooper said.

“He’s one of our best players. He will bring a new dimension to our club, but we are particularly pleased that he is back in action. He didn’t need to come back so soon and we want him to be in top form,” said Pierre-Édouard Bellemare.

“Even during his absence he was very present in the team. His return is very good news for us,” added Zach Bogosian.

In the Avalanche camp, Jared Bednar will match Nathan MacKinnon’s deployment to the Lightning offering. In the Western finale, we saw MacKinnon take on Connor McDavid in a Duel of the Titans, which the Avalanche star player won.

“I can use Nate at all costs. He could face their big line or face the more defensive line — panned by Anthony Cirelli — depending on how the game or series is going,” the Avalanche head coach concluded.

It starts on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Finally!

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