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|Tampa Bay Lightning||+1.5
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The Tampa Bay Lightning will face the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals. Both of these teams played well during the season, but the Avalanche were significantly better. The Lightning went into the Playoffs tied for the fourth-most points in the Eastern Conference, while the Avalanche entered the Playoffs with the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have utilized their veteran presence and are making their third Stanley Cup appearance in three years. This seemed unlikely when they were facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round. The Lightning were down 3-2 but went on to win the series after winning Games Six and Seven at home and on the road. Tampa Bay breezed through the Second Round and shocked the league when they swept the Florida Panthers. Other than Game Two, a 2-1 victory, the Lightning won each game by at least two goals. The Lightning faced the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. They lost Games One and Two in New York but followed that up by rattling off four straight wins.
The Lightning have seen four veterans have very productive Playoff performances. Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman have combined for 68 points in 17 Playoff games. These players lead the Lightning on and off the ice and have proven that with their Playoff efficiency.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has had full control of the goaltender reins in the Playoffs. Vasilevskiy is seeing over 31 shots a game and is only giving up 2.27 goals per match. Unless he gets injured, he will likely see every minute of the Stanley Cup Finals in net.
The Colorado Avalanche have made light work of their opponents and only lost two games in the Playoffs. Colorado faced the Nashville Predators in the First Round and put on an offensive show. They scored 21 goals in four games and swept Nashville. The Avalanche struggled a little bit more in the Second Round and lost Games Two and Five of that series. However, they won Games One, Three, Four, and Six and moved on. Colorado faced a streaking Oilers team in the Stanley Cup Semifinals, but that did not seem to matter. Colorado dismantled Edmonton and swept them.
The Avalanche are averaging over 4.5 goals per game in the Playoffs. This is in large part to Cale Makar, Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. These four players are averaging over one point a game and have combined for 74 points in 14 games.
The Avalanche have a dicey goaltending situation but feel confident about whoever they send to start Game One. Darcy Kuemper started every game in the first two rounds but got injured in Game One of the previous round. Pavel Francouz took over and has a higher save percentage than Kuemper. The Avalanche have not announced who is starting Game One, but they will be in good shape either way.
The Avalanche are playing at home and have a stronger offense, so they will squeak out a victory.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Head-to-Head||Colorado Avalanche|
|Jon Cooper||Head Coach||Jared Bednar|
|51-23-8 (3rd in Atlantic Division)||Standing||56-19-7 (1st in Central Division)|
|Nikita Kucherov (23)||Points||Cale Makar (22)|
|Steven Stamkos (9)||Goals||Nathan MacKinnon (11)|
|Nikita Kucherov (16)||Assists||Cale Makar (17)|
|Ondrej Palat (9)||+/-||Gabriel Landeskog (14)|
|Nikita Kucherov (3.53)||Shots (Per Game)||Nathan MacKinnon (5.86)|
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the underdogs but can steal Game One if they slow down Nathan MacKinnon and score the first goal.
Nathan MacKinnon has scored three goals in the last four games and 11 goals in 14 Playoff games. He is a dangerous scorer, which is precisely why the Lightning defensemen need to slow him down.
The Lightning are on a four-game winning streak and have a lot of momentum. They need to push their momentum by scoring the first goal in this series.
The Colorado Avalanche are the favorites and will win if they draw penalties and slow down Steven Stamkos.
The Avalanche are converting over 31% of their power-plays in the Playoffs. They have to find ways to draw penalties and give themselves a man advantage.
Steven Stamkos scored both of the Lightning’s goals in their Game Six victory against the Rangers. He is getting hot at the right time and needs to be stopped in this game.
This was not a surprising choice. Stamkos is Lightning’s most recent hero and one of their veteran leaders.
Stamkos need to take charge of his team before this game starts. They have been here before, but he needs to remind his team not to become complacent.
Cole Makar scored or assisted on five of Colorado’s six goals in their previous game. He now has 17 assists and is playing over 27 minutes a game.
Makar does not need to change anything going into this game. He just needs to keep looking for his teammates and setting them up.
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|Tampa Bay Lightning vs Colorado Avalanche Information|
|What||Tampa Bay Lightning vs Colorado Avalanche|
|Where||Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado|
|When||Wednesday, June 15, 8:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||ABC|
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