5 aspects: Psyche, Special Teams and Home Field Advantage

Friday (8 p.m. ET;; Sat. 2 a.m. EDT) will see the first game of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs in which a team can win the title. In the Stanley Cup Finals between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Avalanche lead 3-1 after four games. In Game 5, they can crown themselves at home in the Ball Arena for the first time since 2001 and the third time in franchise history.

Five aspects to consider:

Historic mammoth task for Lightning

Things are looking bleak for the two-time Tampa champions. According to the statistics, their 1:3 deficit is almost impossible to catch up. 36 times in Stanley Cup history has a team been so behind in a best-of-7 series in the Finals. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs managed to win once. That happened in 1942. However, the Lightning are determined to change this and trust in their experience.

“We’re still in the race,” says a striker Pat Maroon sure, who has won the cup twice with Tampa and once with the St. Louis Blues in the past three years. “Of course that was a bitter loss in Game 4, but the good thing is that we’re still playing hockey. We haven’t lost the series yet. It matters who wins four games first. We have a challenge ahead of us. But if If there’s a team that can do it, this is it.”

Video: [email protected], Gm4: Kadri overcomes Vasilevskiy to OT-Sie

Avalanches must withstand pressure

Tampa has its back against the wall, but the game is also a psychological challenge for Colorado. Should the Avalanche win Game 5, it would be the franchise’s first title since 2001. A huge responsibility for a team that has few players who have ever made it to a Stanley Cup Finals. That pressure could put the inexperienced team at a disadvantage compared to the Lightning, who have won the finals for the past two years and are used to being in these exceptional games.

“We know what’s at stake, but we also know what Tampa is going to bring to the ice and we need to put the emotions aside and focus on the game,” the Colorado forward explained Darren Helm, who won the 2008 Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. “Like Cale (Makar) said, we believe in our team, but we also know that Tampa will play their best game. We have to ignore everything else and just focus on the game.”

[Hole dir hier alle Neuigkeiten vom Lightning-Avalanche Stanley Cup Finale]

Special teams become a problem

The Lightning stumbled in the finals with a majority and a minority. Against Colorado they could only use one of 14 powerplays. They scored the only goal with a man in their only win in Game 3. With a man down, the record also leaves a lot to be desired. Tampa was down a man 13 times, and Colorado scored six times. In five-a-side, the Lightning are 10-9 on goal in four games, so special teams’ weaknesses are key. If Tampa is going to force Game 6, the special teams need to improve.

“We had chances but no goals,” analyzed assistant coach Derek Lalonde after Game 4. “I really believe that if you do things right, things will work out. The big disappointment is being outnumbered. Their power play isn’t nice. They create their chances in front of goal. We just don’t clear the puck. We missed clearing twice and the puck ended up in our goal.”

Video: [email protected], Gm4: MacKinnon deflects puck into goal for PPG

Tampa needs to find a way to score goals

In addition to the special teams, the offensive has been a problem for the Lightning so far. In four games, the defending champions scored eleven goals, six of them in game 3 alone. In game 2, the Lightning went away empty-handed, in game 1 they scored three times, in game four twice. Especially the stars of the Lightning have to step up. defender Victor Hedman leads the team with four points (1 goal, 3 assists). The Elite Strikers Nikita Kucherov (3 Assists), Ondrej Palat (2 goals, 1 assist) and captain Steven Stamkos (1 goal, 1 assist) are not the usual decisive factors. If they manage to bring their quality and power to the ice, they could put Colorado under pressure.

Video: [email protected], Gm4: Cirelli with opening goal after 36s

Away weakness and home advantage

The first four games of the series offered very different pictures depending on which team had home field advantage. Colorado won twice at home in the Ball Arena, Tampa got the only win in their own Amalie Arena and at least forced overtime in the second home game. Game 5 takes place in Colorado again. The Avalanche won seven of nine home games in this year’s playoffs, Tampa lost six of eleven games away.

That means: The statistics speak clearly for the Avalanche. Tampa needs to break the pattern. In doing so, the goalkeeper could once again Andrei Vasilevskiy to be the focus. He is regarded as perhaps the best goalkeeper in the world, but has already had 16 goals in this series. If the Lightning are going to have a chance, he needs to be at his best.