After Game 5, it looked like the ice had tipped the Tampa Bay Lightning’s way. The Lightning had gone into Denver and won to keep their hopes for a third-straight Stanley Cup alive. Alas, the good feeling was short-lived. The Colorado Avalanche returned the “favor” by winning in Florida to become the Stanley Cup champions.
In the end, the score of Game 6 was 2-1 win. After Steven Stamkos put the Lightning out ahead in the first period, that was about all the offense the Lightning generated. The Avalanche absolutely dominated period two and almost all of period three. Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves, which was a surprise to me when I looked at the box score. It seemed he had little to do on the night.
Why Did the Avalanche Win?
Using a mixture of speed and the experience of being denied so often over the last few seasons, the Avalanche utilized their talent and engaged a hard-working and dominating defense to more than earn the Stanley Cup championship by knocking off a team that won that same Cup the last two seasons.
The Avalanche remained aggressive in both ends of the ice and moved the puck time and time again into the Lightning zone. There was no comeback simply because Colorado made it almost impossible.
The Lightning seemed out-manned. Even in the two minutes at the end of the game when the Lightning pulled the goalie, it wasn’t clear that they had the extra man.
To my eyes, the Lightning lost their composure. They became frustrated, which turned into chippy play, which got them out of their game plan. It was the first Stanley Cup for the Avalanche since 2001 and their third over the franchise history. With the loss, the Lightning’s 11 series winning streak in Stanley Cup play ended.
Cale Makar Wins the Conn Smythe Trophy
In individual player awards, 23-year-old Cale Makar was the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was no surprise. He earned it with his outstanding play all through the postseason.
Makar was the youngest defenseman to win the Conn Smythe since Bobby Orr. The youngest Conn Smythe winner ever was Patrick Roy who was 20 years old when he led the Montreal Canadiens to the Cup in 1986.
As the series closed, Makar finished third in overall playoff scoring (to the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who were number one and two) by potting eight goals and adding 21 assists (for 29 points). Last week Makar also won the Norris Trophy given to the NHL’s best defenseman.
Darcy Kuemper Was Strong When Called Upon
As noted, Darcy Kuemper wasn’t that busy, but stopped 22 of the 23 shots the Lightning threw on net. Although Kuemper wouldn’t be considered to be in the same class of his opposition goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, he played really well.
Kuemper’s solid performance (with 10 wins) in the Stanley Cup Final helped lead his team to the Cup. However, fans can’t forget that, when Kuemper went down, his backup Pavel Francouz jumped in and didn’t miss a beat by winning six games.
Lightning Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy Was Strong, Just Not Strong Enough
Andrei Vasilevskiy (mostly) played well during the playoffs. Last night, he made 28 saves and only let in two goals. He was actually terrific in the net, but it wasn’t enough. He won only two games in the Final and ended the postseason with a record of 14-9.
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