The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to make this a Stanley Cup Final after all following their comprehensive Game 3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night down in Florida.
While the result was huge for the two-time defending champs to keep the series interesting — they’re not trailing 2-1 — we had a solid showing with our picks, going 2-1 (nailed the spread and over/under, just not the winner).
Lesson learned as Tampa deserved a bit more respect on their name. But after the first two games of the series in Denver, it looked like the Avs were going to walk to the Cup.
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2022 Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET
- Game 4 (COL leads 2-1)
- Watch on ABC
- Full Series Preview
All the Bolts appeared to need — despite being without one of their best forwards in Brayden Point — was some home cooking and some much-needed adjusting from head coach Jon Cooper.
Not only was there an abundance of jump in their game to overturn an early deficit, but Andrei Vasilevskiy looked like his usual self between the pipes after a miserable first two games of the series.
It’s awfully similar to the Eastern Conference Final in which the New York Rangers jumped on Tampa early, getting a 2-0 series lead before the champs found a way to wake up.
So the focus shifts to Colorado’s weakest link, which is Darcy Kuemper.
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The goaltender has been nothing short of mediocre in the Stanley Cup Final, even with a 16-save shutout in Game 2. He’s stopped 53 of 61 Tampa shots so far for a less-than-impressive .869 save percentage.
Now head coach Jared Bednar has to choose whether or not to keep with his No. 1 goalie or go to backup Pavel Francouz, who performed admirably enough in the Western Conference Final against the high-powered Edmonton Oilers.
This isn’t the greatest area to have your most shaky footing, meaning the Avalanche might have to keep scoring at a torrid pace to keep their series lead.