Getting to the top, as the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning did, requires talent, structured coaches and leaders who make the right personnel moves at the right time. But you also need, to a certain extent, a bit of luck.
When I look at the Lightning, I can’t help but think that Ondrej Palat was exposed by the team in the latest Seattle Kraken expansion draft. He was available, but the 32nd NHL team opted for Quebecer Yanni Gourde.
An excellent choice, let’s be clear. I love Gourde for everything he brings to the track.
On the other hand, it must be recognized that Palat has been Rayo’s dark hero since the start of the playoffs. Again on Friday night, it was he who scored the game-winning goal in the third period to keep the Lightning alive and thus deprive the Avalanche of a third Stanley Cup in their history.
TOES AND NICHUSHKIN
Then when we talk about the luck factor, we can also add the acquisitions of Valeri Nichushkin and Devon Toews by the Colorado Avalanche.
I say lucky because they exceeded all expectations placed on them at the time of purchase. Remember, Toews was acquired from the New York Islanders for two second-round picks and is now Cale Makar’s playing partner in first-pair defense.
For his part, Nichushkin had signed a free agent contract with the team in 2019.
After two decent seasons, he exploded this year and became the player he was expected to become when the Dallas Stars selected him 10th in the 2013 draft.
He’ll also be a free agent with no compensation and a chance to break the bank. I’m sure he wants to stay in Denver and Avalanche wants to stay with him too. It remains to be seen if they will be able to get along in the long run.
VASI AND KUEMPER
On the other hand, Andrei Vasilevskiy’s work on Lightning net has absolutely nothing to do with luck!
Every time Lightning takes a one-goal lead, it looks like the slope will be insurmountable for the Avalanche. Imagine how mentally difficult it must be for Colorado to tell itself that it has to score two goals against Vasilevskiy if it wants to win.
It is almost impossible to beat him on a free kick. It always takes a rebound or deflection to outwit him.
On the other hand, Darcy Kuemper isn’t as solid at net for the Avalanche.
It’s obvious he feels the pressure to keep up with his Russian counterpart in the Lightning. When you know the opposing goalkeeper is in full possession of his midfield, you don’t want to be the one to flinch and lose your team.
However, on Friday night, Jan Rutta’s first-half goal should never have gone in. Especially not in the Stanley Cup Final, when you’re just one win away from lifting the big trophy.
– Interview with Kevin Dubé
Echoes of Bergie
Several coaches have found jobs in the NHL in recent weeks, starting with Paul Maurice with the Florida Panthers. I hope that the latter does not try to change the identity of this team, focused on attack. I trust him, he has enough experience. I also really like the signings of Bruce Cassidy with the Vegas Golden Knights and Luke Richardson with the Chicago Blackhawks. In Cassidy’s case, the pressure is on him because the Golden Knights need to win soon. One thing is certain, he knows how to manage star players as he did it masterfully in Boston with Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
…and the bad guy!
On the other hand, the hiring of John Tortorella shocks me. To me, it’s a Flyers disaster. Tortorella finds himself with a team that probably won’t make the playoffs and he will want to prove once again that he is the master on board. I don’t understand this decision by GM Chuck Fletcher, but on the other hand, I imagine the latter is going all out knowing full well that he will be the next to be fired if things don’t improve. Philadelphia. This kind of news makes me sad every time for guys like Bob Hartley or Patrick Roy, who are just waiting for a call back to the NHL. Despite everything, we still rely on outdated trainers like Tortorella.
I like the new way of counting points in the Memorial Cup tournament. Starting this year, we give three points for a win in regulation time, two for a win in extra time and one for a loss. I think that’s what the NHL will eventually adopt as well. Additionally, the Canadian Hockey League introduced the three-on-three overtime period into the tournament during the preliminary round. Another idea for NHL leaders to ponder. It is frankly inhumane to ask players to play two or three overtimes out of five against five.