The Colorado Avalanche may have had the best record in the Western Conference in the regular season and have beaten some good formations in the playoffs, but the challenge that awaits them in the Stanley Cup Final is imposing and all in its locker room are aware of this.
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As of Wednesday, the day of the first game of the series, the “Avs” will face a team with experience and knowing how to win. The Tampa Bay Lightning showed this spring why they have won the Cup for the past two years. Its key players, whether Andrei Vasilevskiy, Steven Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov, as well as its support elements are present without exception. The absence of Brayden Point was not felt too much thanks to the commitment of each color holder of the formation, well motivated to repeat the feat of the great dynasties by lifting a third cup in a row.
Obviously, on the Colorado side, respect for the opponent is well felt, even if the "Bolts" collected nine points less than the Avalanche during the regular season and they will start the final at the 'foreign. In fact, the Lightning have started each of their three previous series in enemy territory.
"The way I see it, to be the best, you have to be able to beat the best," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar told ESPN on Sunday. They are the team that everyone is trying to replicate. They are in the final for the third time in a row, they have won twice already. This is what every club is trying to achieve. It's not just about getting there, but about staying there and being in the conversations every season, with the best teams in the league. They show up to prove that they are the one and only.”
A mountain to conquer
However, Bednar's troops will not arrive on the Ball Arena rink with a feeling of inferiority. Having posted 12 wins in 14 playoff contests so far, they believe they have all the tools required to succeed their rivals at the top of the NHL mountain.
"They represent a very good team, but we also have confidence in ourselves," said defender Bowen Byram. We have a really good club. It's not easy to get to the final. We are excited to be there. They are a good club and we will have to be at our best to beat them. However, we are enthusiastic about this challenge.”
And what will be the recipe for overcoming the Lightning who are not at all intimidated by anyone in front of him?
“We have to play according to our identity, wished Bednar. There are specific keys that we have to look at and things that we will try to accomplish in the offensive zone. It starts with our skating. They form a club with depth, a very committed defensive group and very dangerous in attack. The keeper is excellent. They're back for a reason, aren't they? This is a formation against which it is very difficult to win. We will have to be ready for this challenge.”
-The TVA Sports channel will broadcast all the games of the Stanley Cup final.