Welcome to the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals! We’ve finally made it to the end of the NHL playoffs and it should surprise no one that the two teams remaining had the best odds to make it this far at the beginning of the season. The Colorado Avalanche are a really good squad, but they haven’t been in the Stanley Cup Finals in over 20 years. Colorado is led by Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar. The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to become a dynasty by capturing their third straight Stanley Cup. The reigning champs are headlined by Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The series gets underway on Wednesday, June 15th with Game 1 puck drop at 8 pm ET. Only one team is walking away with the greatest trophy in sports, so let’s take a look at who that will be with some NHL Stanley Cup Finals predictions. Even if your favorite team is knocked out already, there are tons of ways to enjoy the 2022 NHL Playoffs and this series between the Lightning and Avalanche is no different. You can build daily fantasy hockey lineups, participate in legal sports betting, or have fun with Underdog Fantasy, Monkey Knife Fight, or PrizePicks NHL player props. Don't forget to check out our NHL Daily Projections, NHL Vegas Odds, and more fantasy hockey tools to help you win! Now, let's make some NHL predictions for the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals.
2022 Stanley Cup Finals: Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
You can say that the path to winning a Stanley Cup is a difficult one, but both teams made it look pretty easy. Colorado has lost only two games in the playoffs, While Tampa Bay made quick work of the Florida Panthers in the second round. The Avalanche will have their hands full with the back-to-back champions, but it’s not an impossible task to beat them.
Colorado is the highest-scoring team in the playoffs, but that doesn’t really mean much at this point. The Lightning had to deal with Toronto and Florida – two great scoring teams – and were able to control their best players. The Avalanche are going to need to continue to rely on their defensemen to jump into the rush and provide offense. They’ve been excellent at doing that since the start and will need to continue.
It’s no secret that Tampa Bay has the best goalie in the world. Andrei Vasilevskiy is much better than Darcy Kuemper or Pavel Francouz and he will be the key to helping his team win a third straight championship. We know that Vasilevskiy can give up goals high-blocker side, but we also know that when the series is on the line, he just shuts the door completely. Colorado does have the second-best power play this postseason, so Tampa Bay will need to help their goalie out by not taking unnecessary penalties.
The Lightning will have to deal with a type of player they haven’t seen in the playoffs so far – Cale Makar. The kid is one of the best skating defensemen in the game, and he can burn you in a hurry. As good as Adam Fox was for the New York Rangers last round against Tampa Bay, he is not on the same level as Makar. The Avs' star can easily jump into the play and beat his man with ease. Victor Hedman is great, but he doesn’t move as quickly as Makar and doesn’t look at Ryan McDonagh or Jan Rutta for any help. Colorado is a fast team and Tampa Bay will need to make sure they take time and space away from the Avalanche's best players.
At the end of the day, there is one thing that remains true: defense wins championships. The Tampa Bay Lightning have done this before and they know what they have to do to get the job done. Their path to get here was a tough one, but having played so much hockey over the last three years and still not missing a beat? I can’t imagine a scenario where they don’t win. This will be a long series and both teams will face adversity, but no team in the last three years has been able to beat the Lightning in a seven-game series. Colorado may not have the depth or goaltending to change that.
Prediction: Tampa Bay in 7
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