Avalanche take over Stanley Cup Final with clinical precision in Game 2

DENVER – It was clinical.

Precision personified.

As unbalanced as an eruption can be.

One team won almost every race and every battle, while the other seemed to be a slow pacer and often seemed bewildered, struggling not only to structure themselves, but also to make simple plays that are usually routine.

The Colorado Avalanche are looking like a well-oiled machine right now and that 7-0 thrashing of the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at the Ball Arena probably felt like a timeless real-time classic for the head coach. Jared Bednar.

It’s not every day that a team can beat the best goalkeeper in the world seven times.

Converted touchdowns just aren’t commonplace: Not on a sleepy night during scorching February days, let alone Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Avalanche quickly reached warp speed and it was an absolutely relentless attack, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

For the second time in as many games, the Avalanche were downed with a cannon to start the game and their blistering pace continued to force the Lightning to make unusual mistakes with puck management.

This time, the Avalanche stopped the Lightning from pushing back and tying the score.

Was this an example of the coaching staff putting a plan in place to combat what the Lightning did in Game 1?

“I don’t know the perfect plan, but it was definitely the closest match to perfection you can get from your players,” said Bednar, who was quick to deflect credit. “Coming out of Game 1 we were dangerous offensively but I thought there was another step for our group. So we assessed that, we showed them some things and they did a good job and on the defensive side. , we were much better (Saturday) We were much better It wasn’t even close.

Not even close is a good way to describe it.

As a result, the Avalanche suddenly find themselves two wins away from winning the club’s first Stanley Cup since 2001.

But if you thought the Avalanche were planning to get things going or start planning the parade route, you didn’t follow this playoff ride.

Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson was quick to dismiss a suggestion that his team had the Lightning on the ropes or that they might be pissed off about what’s happened so far.

“You know what, they’re a championship-caliber team and I don’t think they’re frustrated,” Manson said. “I think they are patient. And they will adapt and they will let things go. I think that’s what made them successful. So for us, we can’t think that we’re in their shoes, we can’t think of that. We just have to keep going. And just have that mindset that doesn’t quit.

“It feels good but the job isn’t done, as they say.”

The job isn’t done by any stretch of the imagination, but the Lightning are going to have to find an entirely different level of play if they want to regroup like they did in the Eastern Conference Finals, when he overcame a 0-2 series. deficit to win four straight games.

The harsh reality for the Lightning is that they must win four of the next five games to avoid being dethroned.

“In our room, we have this humble mentality and belief. I think belief is such a big thing,” Manson said. “We know that if we go out and play the way we have to play, we have confidence in ourselves. We believe in our game.”

Despite all the talk of the Lightning having a decisive advantage between the posts, Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper is doing his part, finishing with 17 saves on Saturday to record the shutout – his first in 12 starts in this playoffs. .

Kuemper saw a steady diet from Corey Perry around the blue paint – and the pair were coincidentally given minors at one point – but the goalie didn’t allow the Lightning forward to get under his skin or knock him out of his game.

“He just likes to go to the net. That’s how he plays. He always played that way,” Kuemper said. “I’m just trying to get out of it the best I can.

“It was probably one of our best games of all of the playoffs. We made some good adjustments from last game and we were really able to play the way we wanted to. The guys were amazing.”

That’s an understatement.

The composite score for the series is now 10-3 and while this juggernaut offense is clicking right now, the most impressive development in this series surrounds how the Avalanche have defended – and limits the chances of danger to the Lightning.

“I feel like we played our identity with a ‘T’ – obviously we had good goals and stuff like that. It was kind of weird,” Avalanche defenseman Cale said. Makar, who scored two goals and finished with four shots on goal “Obviously we get chances, but the guys capitalized, so that’s the good part.

“We know as a team that we are rewarded offensively when we play our best game defensively. So for us, it’s just coming up with that kind of achievement every night. As I said in a previous question, they obviously make a great team. Their players are going to find ways to exploit you and we just have to be ready for that. They’re going to throw everything they’ve got at us in the next game, so we just have to be ready, and ready to bring it back to them too.

One of the only negative developments for the Avalanche was the early departure of forward Andre Burakovsky, who had a goal and an assist in just 10 shifts and 7:51 of ice time before suffering an injury. not disclosed.

On the other hand, Andrew Cogliano returned to the lineup after missing Game 1 with a broken finger and he quickly netted a pair of assists while playing two minutes and 36 seconds shorthanded.

The veteran winger was also quick to deflect on whether or not the Lightning were rattled by the speed the Avalanche are playing with – something that has played a huge role in the result so far.

“I don’t know, I don’t know. I think we’re really focused on ourselves right now,” Cogliano said. “We just focus on our game and when we play like we did tonight, everyone leaves the rink feeling proud of themselves and that’s a great feeling. You can’t catch up with what’s going on outside, what other teams are doing.

This approach has served the Avalanche well and you can be sure they will do everything in their power not to deviate from this.

It’s the time of year when many stats can be thrown out the window, but the Avalanche are a perfect 7-0 on the road in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs heading into Monday’s game at Amalia Arena.

“They are the defending Stanley Cup champions. They have won twice, they know how to play, they know how to play at home,” Cogliano said. “That will be the biggest test for us.”

The good thing for the Avalanche is that they’ve made a habit of passing the tests with flying colors — Saturday night being the most recent example.

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