By Cole Parkinson
It’s finally that time of the NHL season when the two remaining teams battle for the Stanley Cup.
Once again, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the remaining east team and are looking for their third straight Stanley Cup and they’re hoping to be the first team to achieve that feat since the New York Islanders from 1980-83. But from the west, the Colorado Avalanche are hoping to put Tampa’s streak to a stop and win their first Cup since 2001. It’s definitely going to be an interesting series with tons of things to watch for on both sides.
While Colorado swept away Edmonton in the Western Conference Final, the New York Rangers were a bit more of a handful for Tampa as they pushed the series to six games. So while Colorado will have a bit more of a breather before the final round begins, I really don’t see it as a benefit or detraction due to the fact both teams got several days off after the Conference Finals.
Colorado has looked like a wagon all playoffs long, but their toughest test is next with the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy is the best goalie they have faced in this playoffs and he’s been stellar since Game 6 of Round 1. In 17 games, he has a 2.27 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage, and he’s had a shutout as well. While Toronto got to him in the first five games of the opening round, he locked down in Games 6 and 7 of that round, and continued to show he’s one of the best goalies in the league. He posted .971, 9.72, .971, and 1.000 save percentages in the sweep against Florida. And while he struggled a bit in the first two games against New York with .824 and .893 save percentages in Games 1 and 2, he was above .930 in the next four straight. If there’s a boogeyman in the playoffs for teams, it has to be Vasilevskiy.
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