Avalanche Post Emphatic Game 2 Win
Wow. Yes, the Colorado Avalanche have been the team to beat since the NHL season started and they were playing at home. Still, nobody could have predicted the way Colorado made the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning look like an ECHL team.
The good news for Tampa Bay is that goal differential doesn’t play a factor in deciding who gets to skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup over their heads at the end of the series. Tampa Bay won’t be in trouble until they lose at home.
Tampa Bay is 7-1 at home during this year’s playoffs while Colorado is 7-0 on the road so something will have to change. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 1.69 goals-against average at home during the playoffs compared to a mark of 3.29 on the road.
According to the NHL betting lines, the series price for the favored Avalanche has moved from -175 to -600 since the series started while Tampa Bay’s odds rose from +155 to +450.
So much for Avalanche’s Lack of Playoff Experience
There was little that has transpired on the ice that would make one believe that the Colorado Avalanche isn’t the best team in hockey this season. However, the difference in playoff experience when facing Tampa Bay was a bit alarming.
While most of the players from the last two title runs are still playing key roles with the Lightning, only four Colorado players had played in the Stanley Cup Finals before the start of this series.
The Avalanche have not trailed during the first two games and have led 82:58 and are now two wins away from winning the franchise’s first NHL title since 2001.
"It ain't going to be easy in Tampa with their home crowd behind them, but we're going to do all we can to get ready." – Mikko Rantanen@Jackie_Redmond | @Avalanche | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/C0bqi6snrd
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) June 19, 2022
Perhaps the most impressive part of the 7-0 destruction of the defending champions in Game 2 is that contribution came from pretty much every Colorado player. Conn Smythe Trophy favorite Cale Makar scored twice as did former Dallas Stars castoff Valeri Nichushkin. After missing Game 1 due to injury, Andrew Cogliano had two assists, rookie Alex Newhook assisted on the first two goals, Mikko Rantanen had three assists, and Andre Burakovsky a goal and an assist.
Unlike in Game 1 when a brief flurry of offense allowed Tampa Bay to rally from two goals down to tie the game, there were no comebacks or easing up in Game 2. Goalie Darcy Kuemper needed to make only 16 saves including just seven at even strength.
All of this was done while playing without second-line center Nazem Kadri who appears to be close to a return.
Something to consider for those who bet online, the total has gone over in seven of Colorado’s last 10 games and in four of the last time contests when playing at Tampa Bay.
Lightning Need To Take Care of Business at Home
The calling card for the Tampa Bay Lightning during their bid for a third straight NHL title has been their resiliency. Tampa Bay was 7-0 with three overtime victories during the 2020 playoffs. They were also 7-0 after losses a year ago as the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups. The streak improved to 17 consecutive postseason wins following a defeat in 2022. That run ended when the New York Rangers won the first two games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay promptly won the next four games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third year in a row.
With all due respect to the Rangers, the task will be much tougher against Colorado. A goalie never had it as easy as Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper did between the pipes in Game 2. Colorado had the puck in Tampa Bay’s end so much that Kuemper barely had to break a sweat to post his first shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since he coincidentally blanked the team he is currently playing for in Game 3 of a 2014 first-round series.
Tampa Bay’s playoff experience was supposed to be one of the advantages for the Lightning coming into the series. However, some of the numbers for the most game-tested Lightning players in this series are not good. Defenseman and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Victor Hedman has a -4 defensive rating. Fellow two-time Cup winner Ondrej Palat is -3 while Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Ryan McDonagh are all -2.
Eight of Tampa Bay’s 18 skaters have one shot or less in the first two games. The only category where Tampa Bay held an edge in Game 2 was with 57 hits and that is also an indication that Colorado had the puck enough to be on the receiving end of that many hits. Tampa Bay tried to change its fortunes by trying to rile up the Avalanche players with the hope of getting some power-play time. However, the Lightning managed to draw just three power-play opportunities while Colorado was 2 for 4 with the man advantage.
The Las Vegas odds total has gone under in 10 of Tampa Bay’s last 14 games.
Lightning vs Avalanche Head-to-Head
So much for the run of one-game contests between Colorado and Tampa Bay. Both regular-season games and the opening game in the series were decided by just one goal. That ended with Saturday’s blowout win by the Avalanche.
Six of the last eight games between the teams had been decided by one goal. Six of the last seven games featured at least seven goals scored. Colorado has won four of the last six road games against Tampa Bay although the Avalanche have played just eight games in Tampa Bay since the start of the 2012-13 season.
Avalanche vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Avalanche (56-19-7 in the regular season) vs Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
- Day/Time: Monday, 8 p.m. ET
- Live Stream: NHL TV
Avalanche vs Lightning Betting Lines
Colorado Avalanche +1½ -260 -110 6 +105o 2½ -140o 2½ Evu
Tampa Bay Lightning -1½ +220 -110 6 -125u 2½ -145o 2½ +105u
Avalanche vs Lightning Prediction
If there is a team that knows how to rise to the challenge at this time of the season, it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning. There were tough spots for the Lightning to work themselves out of during the last three postseasons. There is no time like the present for Tampa Bay to display that championship pedigree. If the Lightning lose on Monday night, they will be facing a different kind of history as the last reigning champion to be swept the following year in the Stanley Cup Finals were the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.
The Lightning came into the series having drawn the most power-play opportunities in this year’s playoffs. However, Tampa Bay is 0-for-6 on the power play in the series. It would be a huge help for Tampa Bay’s dangerous power play to be utilized a little bit more now that the series shifts to the Sunshine State.
Colorado had seven goals in Game 2 and probably could have had more if not jumping out to a comfortable lead early on, the total could have been higher. However, the sportsbook once again lists the total at 6 goals in Game 2.
After winning the first two games, the best odds for the series are now showing Colorado at +225 to win the series in five games and +250 to complete a four-game sweep. The best odds for Tampa Bay is +800 to win the series in seven games. Don’t be looking for another 7-0 game with the Lightning playing at home and wanting to avoid going down 0-3 at all costs.