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3 Keys: Lightning at Avalanche, Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final

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3 Keys: Lightning at Avalanche, Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final

(3A) Lightning at (1C) Avalanche

8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS

Colorado leads best-of-7 series 1-0 

 

The Colorado Avalanche are preparing for pushback from the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena on Saturday.

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The Avalanche won 4-3 in overtime in Game 1 on Wednesday.

“We know that we haven’t seen Tampa’s best game,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “They’ll be better than they were in Game 1. There’s a lot of areas for me that we can be a lot better in than we were in Game 1. So, we approach it the same way we did in Game 1. I’ll expect our guys to be energized and ready to go.”

[RELATED: Stanley Cup Final coverage | Stanley Cup Final schedule]

Bednar said the Avalanche expect Andrei Vasilevskiy to be at his best in Game 2 after the Lightning goalie allowed four goals on 38 shots in Game 1.

Vasilevskiy is 1-3 with a .884 save percentage in Game 1s this postseason, but he’s 11-3 with a .938 save percentage from Game 2 on, including 2-1 with a .928 save percentage in Game 2s against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.

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“‘Vasy’ just dials himself in,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Now he’s got a feel for the way they play, the speed they play with, where they shoot from — all those things. And that’s what great goalies do. They can figure out teams.”

Tampa Bay is 18-1 in games following a loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2020. It is 4-0 all-time in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, but this is the first time it opened the series on the road. 

Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-7 series are 341-54 (.863) all time, including 47-5 (.904) in the Cup Final. When the home team wins the first two games of the Cup Final, it has won the series 37 of 40 times (.925).

Here are 3 keys for Game 2:

1. Fixes against the forecheck

It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to establish their forecheck in Game 1. Their speed on it forced the Lightning into turnovers coming out of their defensive zone, one that directly led to forward Valeri Nichushkin‘s goal that gave Colorado a 2-0 lead at 9:23 of the first period.

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The goal by forward Andre Burakovsky at 1:23 of overtime also was a result of a Tampa Bay turnover caused by Colorado’s aggressiveness in attacking on the forecheck.

“I don’t think you can ever really understand it until you feel it in the first game like that,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “When they are forechecking, sometimes for us we like to connect the dots, make a couple passes. Early on here it might be throwing it to an area, throwing it to speed ourselves and trying to bypass a couple of their forecheckers that way. In the end it comes down to reads, it comes down to being connected in our zone and trying to execute a lot better than we did.”

2. Keep firing, Cale

Cale Makar attempted nine shots in Game 1; six were blocked and the Avalanche defenseman missed on the other three. It was the first time in 15 games this postseason Makar did not have a shot on goal; that happened twice in 77 games during the regular season. 

Makar is averaging 3.4 shots on goal per game, most among all NHL defenseman who played beyond the first round. But Tampa Bay did a good job getting in the way of his shots, preventing Colorado from creating scoring chances off of them.

The fact Makar didn’t get any shots isn’t a concern for the Avalanche, especially because they won the game. But Makar’s ability to get shots through has been important to Colorado’s offense in the playoffs and it could be again in Game 2.

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“It’s just making sure that you’re moving and have eyes up shooting and it’s something he does on a consistent basis,” Bednar said, “and if he sees something he likes at the net, I want him to send it there. They’re going to block a lot. It doesn’t bother me. We’ll get it back.”

3. Taking advantage

The Lightning were 0-for-3 with three shots on goal on the power play in Game 1. A big problem they had was entering the zone, but the Avalanche deserve some credit for that.

“I thought we did a nice job on the rush coverage and entering our zone,” Bednar said. “There was some real good quickness to it, anticipation. They were dialed in on some of the tendencies that Tampa’s power play has. There was some sacrifice. We were blocking shots.”

The Lightning need to create better breakouts to get cleaner zone entries when they’re on the power play. 

They did on their first power play in the first period, when they had two shots on goal and five shot attempts. They had one shot and two attempts combined on their other two power play opportunities.

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Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatSteven StamkosNikita Kucherov

Brandon HagelAnthony CirelliAlex Killorn

Ross ColtonBrayden PointNicholas Paul

Pat MaroonPierre-Edouard BellemareCorey Perry

Victor HedmanJan Rutta

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Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevZach Bogosian

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Cal Foote, Fredrik Claesson, Riley Nash

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Injured: None

Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin

Andre Burakovsky — J.T. CompherMikko Rantanen

Alex NewhookDarren HelmArtturi Lehkonen

Andrew CoglianoNico SturmLogan O’Connor

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Devon Toews — Cale Makar

Jack JohnsonJosh Manson

Bowen ByramErik Johnson

Darcy Kuemper

Pavel Francouz

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Scratched: Justus Annunen, Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid, Jacob MacDonald, Jayson Megna, Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Injured: Samuel Girard (sternum), Nazem Kadri (hand)

Status report

The Lightning did not hold a morning skate Saturday. … Cogliano is “possibly an option” for Game 2, Bednar said; the center missed Game 1 after having surgery for a hand injury sustained in the third period of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.

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2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Saturday livestream

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2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Saturday livestream

What should have been the 30th edition of the hillclimb had it not been for the COVID cancellation in 2020, an array of racing and road machinery ranging from Formula 1, to MotoGP, to sportscars and electric vehicles, will either tackle the course at speed or parade up the concourse for fans to admire.

Current Mercedes Formula 1 star George Russell will take one of the marque’s racers up the hill this weekend, while Nigel Mansell’s 1992 world title will be celebrated by a display from the man himself in some of his most iconic machines.

Elsewhere, three-time MotoGP world champion Wayne Rainey will make an emotional debut at the Festival of Speed, as the American – who was paralysed in an incident in 1993 – will ride a specially adapted Yamaha YZR500 he took to his last world title in 1992 this weekend.

You can watch all of the live action from the hill on Motorsport.com and Motorsport.tv throughout the weekend.

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Mercedes: Zero complacency over F1 2022 100% finishing record

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Mercedes: Zero complacency over F1 2022 100% finishing record

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have finished every race so far in 2022 to ensure that Mercedes is the only squad without a retirement.

On the other hand, championship contenders Red Bull and Ferrari have endured their fair share of mechanical problems in the opening phase of the campaign.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired from the grands prix in Bahrain (fuel pump) and Australia (fuel leak), while Sergio Perez also failed to finish in Bahrain (fuel pump) and was forced out in Canada last week with a gearbox problem.

Ferrari has also had race-stopping car problems beyond the incidents that put Carlos Sainz out in Australia and Imola.

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The Spaniard suffered an hydraulics failure in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while teammate Charles Leclerc had engine failures in Baku and Spain.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff welcomed the finishing record of his squad but did not believe that it had created an invincible car.

“It’s funny that both teams keep having their cars stop,” he said. “But you can’t be complacent about that because it can swing in the other direction very quickly.

“We’re happy about our reliability. Last year, when we look at how we went with the engine, we had the other phenomenon [and lots of problems]. That’s why I don’t want to get too excited too soon.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, limps back to the pit trailing smoke

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, limps back to the pit trailing smoke

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Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

While Ferrari’s reliability failures have been very costly in championship terms, with Leclerc potentially losing two wins because of problems, team boss Mattia Binotto does not think that DNFs will solely decide the title fight.

“Reliability is certainly important, as important as the performance, but I don’t think will be the only factor,” he said after the Canadian Grand Prix.

“I think development from now until the end of the season is another one, as is the budget gap, and then reliability finally.”

Read Also:
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  • Wolff: Mercedes needs to be “careful” with F1 expectations
  • Mercedes F1 plans British GP upgrades amid raised expectations
  • Ferrari hopes FIA will prove impartiality over ex-Mercedes lawyer

While F1’s cars are all-new for this year, the power units are a carryover with the engine regulations not due to change until 2026.

But Binotto says that Ferrari has been exposed by an overhaul during the winter, plus limitations that have been imposed on dyno running.

“The power unit is a completely new design compared to the past, and the problem is because it’s certainly a young project,” he said.

“On top of that, there are limitations on the dynos which were not there in the past, so you cannot run much on the dyno. We are limited, which means the exercise is more complicated.”

Additional reporting by Christian Nimmervoll

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“Intense pain” forces Espargaro withdrawal from MotoGP Dutch GP

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“Intense pain” forces Espargaro withdrawal from MotoGP Dutch GP

The Spaniard injured his ribs in a heavy crash in FP1 at the Sachsenring last weekend, and was ultimately forced to retire from the race due to the pain.

He had hoped to be better for this weekend’s Dutch GP but, after ending Friday 19th overall, he said the pain he was experiencing was much worse than expected and was unsure if he could continue.

Having undergone treatment overnight at Assen and seeing no substantial improvement in his conditions, Espargaro has taken the decision to withdraw from the Assen weekend.

Honda hopes Espargaro will recover in time for August’s British Grand Prix.

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A statement from the team read: “Repsol Honda Team’s Pol Espargaro will not participate in the remainder of the Dutch GP due to his injuries sustained at the Sachsenring.

“Since suffering his fall in Free Practice 1 at the German GP, Pol Espargaro has tried his maximum in order to recover and be fit for Round 11 of the MotoGP World Championship.

“After Free Practice 2 on Friday, Espargaro was still in intense pain and discomfort.

”Consequently, he feels he is not capable of racing a MotoGP bike and together with the Repsol Honda Team has elected to sit out the race in Assen.

“The Repsol Honda Team is looking forward to welcoming a fully fit Pol Espargaro back in Silverstone after the Summer Break.

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“Stefan Bradl will continue to contest the Dutch GP with the Repsol Honda Team.”

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro explained on Friday at Assen that the damage to the muscles around his ribs was also giving him severe back problems.

He also revealed that on the Monday following the German GP that he struggled to even lift himself out of his bed, such was the intensity of the pain he was feeling following the Sachsenring race.

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Espargaro is set to leave Honda at the end of the 2022 MotoGP season and return to KTM with the Tech 3 squad.

Suzuki’s Joan Mir is expected to take his place at the factory Honda squad next year, while Alex Rins will replace Alex Marquez at LCR in 2023 on a factory contract.

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