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The puck drops on the Stanley Cup Final this evening, and it will feature one team looking to cement their dynasty versus another looking to claim their spot on the top of the mountain. The Tampa Bay Lightning are seeking their third straight championship, but their biggest challenge lies ahead in the form of the Colorado Avalanche. This is certainly a tough series to predict a winner of as these two squads are at the top of their games. However, the CHGO Blackhawks crew of Jay Zawaski, Greg Boysen, and Mario Tirabassi give it a shot.
When we moved to make our picks on the CHGO Blackhawks Podcast on Tuesday, I hadn’t made my pick yet. That’s how great and how close this series will be. How can you pick against the back-to-back Cup Champs? How can you pick against the best goalie in the world? How can you pick a team that has won 11 straight playoff series? How? Because the Avalanche are better. Of the teams Tampa has faced in the Cup Final (Dallas and Montreal), Colorado will be the best by a mile. They’re too fast. They’re too deep. Avalanche in 7
I’ve been saying that you shouldn’t bet against the Lightning until they lose. However, I picked the Avalanche to win the Stanley Cup both before the start of the regular season and the playoffs. Colorado has been impressive, going 12-2 through the Western Conference. They are now facing, by far, the deepest team and best goaltender they’ve seen in the postseason. The Avs are faster and more skilled, but the Lightning know how to wear teams down and beat them.
Tampa has faced a ton of adversity already. They had to win Game 7 on the road at the Toronto Maple Leafs to get out of the first round. They fell behind 2-0 in series to the New York Rangers and 2-0 in Game 3 before hitting that next gear to take them out in six games. Colorado has yet to face any real challenges, and it will be interesting to see how they react when they are presented with one in this series. The ultimate x-factor in this series is behind the benches. Jon Cooper never worries and is rarely outcoached. The Lightning are a team that can’t be surprised as they have seen it all. So, that is why I am sticking with the advice I have been giving for the past few weeks. Lightning in 7.
This series has the makings to be one of the best Stanley Cup Finals we have seen in a long time. Both teams are deep, fast, high-scoring, and have star power. Everything you could ask for, so I’m sure someone like Ross Colton or Nicolas Aube-Kubel will make the biggest impact in the series somehow. That’s the beauty of the Stanley Cup.
I believe that Colorado is the best team in the postseason and the better team in this matchup. But the Lightning are two-time defending Cup champs for a reason. Very hard to go against the reigning champions, and the goaltending matchup might be the upper hand that ends up giving Tampa Bay a three-peat. Still, I believe Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar will shine brightest in this series, and the Avalanche will lift the Cup in the end. Avalanche in 7.
For more in-depth coverage of the Stanley Cup Final, check out the Avalanche crew at our mother ship, DNVR.
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