Stanley Cup Final Predictions

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Well, I was the only one who did not get both winners as I thought the Rangers would upset the Tampa Bay Lightning. Congratulations go out to Corey and Matthew who both had a Tampa Bay-Colorado Stanley Cup Final. Corey had the Avs winning before the start of the playoffs while Matthew had Tampa Bay. Everyone had the Avalanche going to the Stanley Cup Final at the start of the post-season while Ryan, Mark and Jeffrey had Florida representing the East while I had Toronto.

Below are the first two round predictions plus the overall standings.

Second Round

Michael 3-1

Ryan 3-1

Mark 3-1

Corey 2-2

Matthew 2-2

Jeffrey 1-3

The first-round recap went as follows

Ryan 7-1

Mark 7-1

Michael 6-2

Corey 6-2

Matthew 5-3

Jeffrey 4-4

Thus far after two rounds

Ryan 12-2

Mark 12-2

Michael 10-4

Corey 10-4

Matthew 9-5

Jeffrey 7-7

Colorado-Tampa Bay

Michael

Colorado in 5

Corey

Colorado in 7

Ryan

Tampa Bay in 7

Mark

Tampa Bay in 6

Jeffrey

Colorado in 6

Matthew

Tampa Bay in 6

Colorado Avalanche-Tampa Bay Lightning

Michael – The reign of the Tampa Bay Lightning will end Friday June 24 when the Colorado Avalanche win in Game 5. The Avalanche are stronger up front and on the blueline and while the Lightning have the edge in goaltending on paper, I think that Darcy Kuemper will lead the Avs to victory.

Corey – I chose the Colorado Avalanche to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final prior to the start of the first round of the playoffs and I’m going to stick with that pick. Tampa Bay will be Colorado’s toughest matchup by far this postseason. It is very difficult to bet against the Lightning because Andrei Vasilevskiy has been outstanding and the team always seems to have an answer when they face any kind of adversity. Colorado has displayed that same drive whenever the game doesn’t appear to be going their way and I believe they have what it takes to dethrone the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon have been sensational, but there have been contributions up and down the lineup of the Avalanche, which should serve them well.

Ryan – Winning three championships in a row seems insane, but this is a team that could do it. The Lightning just find a way to win regardless of who they're facing. They took on arguably the best offensive group assembled thus far in the salary cap era in the Florida Panthers and they swept them in four games. Then they took on the more defensively minded New York Rangers, led by Igor Shesterkin, who was so dominant in the regular season that he even entered the Hart conversation, and after a period of adjustment, Tampa Bay beat them too. The Toronto Maple Leafs have come the closest to beating the Lightning in the 2022 playoffs, but when things were do-or-die, Tampa Bay showed just that little bit extra push that separates the great teams from the legendary ones. It's that little extra that really does seem to separate Tampa Bay from the pack. Tampa Bay has stars, so did the teams they beat. So do the Colorado Avalanche, but the Lightning are so much more than just the sum of their parts. On paper the Avalanche are perfectly capable of beating Tampa Bay, but do they have just that little intangible extra that a team like the Lightning possess? Maybe. This will be the Avalanche's test and while I can see them ultimately winning, I'm picking Tampa Bay out of respect for what they've done over the last few years.

Mark – It's simply remarkable how Tampa Bay has turned up the heat in the postseason. The Lightning honestly seemed like a bit of an afterthought entering the postseason. Not that the NHL was sleeping on them. But it just felt like other outfits -- especially Florida in the East -- had a different kind of momentum. That we are talking about a potential three-peat, here, is wild. The Lightning's matchup with the Avalanche offers a study in contrast. Whereas Tampa Bay's unique edge comes in its postseason experience and in the otherworldly potential of Andrei Vasilevskiy tending twine, Colorado brings to the Stanley Cup Final the most well-rounded roster in the NHL and it has shown this postseason, with the Avalanche losing just two games on their way to this titanic matchup with the Lightning. I actually wonder if the breezy postseason is somewhat problematic for Colorado. They have barely been tested this postseason, while Tampa Bay has endured seven- and six-game series against Toronto and New York, respectively. And Colorado has not been to a Stanley Cup Final in about 20 years. What really puts the Lightning over the top for me is Vasilevskiy, who operates in such a spotlight stratosphere. Darcy Kuemper doesn't have that. Pavel Francouz -- who played very, very well with Kuemper out injured in the WCF -- doesn't have that.

Jeffrey – It just feels like if you're going to beat Tampa, it's going to have to be in less than seven games. The Avalanche are going to come into this one less banged up and more rested, something that I think will give them the edge over the Lightning who have played the most hockey over the last three years.

Matthew – Things looked dicey at points for the Lightning in the last series, but once they took game 3, it was over. This is a battle-hardened team that knows what it takes to win it all and once they smell blood, opposing teams can only hope and pray. Andrei Vasilevskiy has returned to form after a couple of shaky games and they are getting scoring from everywhere in the lineup. On top of all this, Brayden Point is expected to make his return to the lineup at some point. On the other side, the Avalanche are no slouches themselves. However, the loss of Nazem Kadri is massive and leaves a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup. This team scores at will, as do the Lightning, however the Avalanche haven't played a team like the Lightning that can play a run-and-gun style while also able to play a shut-down style of game if they need to. I think the talent of the championship pedigree is too much for the Avalanche to overcome and the Lightning solidify themselves as a bona fide dynasty by winning their third Stanley Cup championship in a row.

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CONN SMYTHE WINNER

Michael – Darcy Kuemper is my choice for the Conn Smythe. While Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon are the favorites heading into the Final, I expect Kuemper to be outstanding in the series.

Corey – My initial Conn Smythe Trophy winner was Mikko Rantanen and I think he still could win if he starts scoring some goals. However, I believe the more likely winner of that award will be Makar, who has been a difference maker all over the ice for the Avalanche during the team’s playoff run. He already faced one of his competitors for the Norris Trophy when he went toe-to-toe with Roman Josi and the Nashville Predators in the opening round. He outperformed Josi in that series and he will look to do the same against Victor Hedman, who is the other finalist for the Norris, in the Stanley Cup Final.

Ryan – If the Lightning win it as I'm projecting, then Andrei Vasilevskiy will probably get the Conn Smythe for the second straight year. Connor McDavid deserves an honorable mention though. I know he won't get it, but he could very well go down as the playoff scoring leader despite not making it to the finals.

Mark – Vasilevskiy is my pick, here. His postseason has not been perfect, but he has time-and-again risen to the moment when the Lightning needed him. Had Connor McDavid and the Oilers made a real series of it against Colorado, I think McDavid would be legitimately in play, here. He is going to be dinged for his team going out in a WCF sweep, though, I suspect, and really could have used a few more games to pad out his already-impressive postseason resume.

Jeffrey – Cale Makar wins his first Conn Smythe and it's the unofficial beginning to Makar becoming the best defenseman in NHL history,

Matthew - I'm going to stick with my original pick of Steven Stamkos. He hasn't been playing out of this world like he was in the regular season but I have a feeling they'll need him to be their best player, other than Vasilevskiy, as we will see some relatively high-scoring games. While he hasn't stolen headlines in the playoffs so far, Stamkos enters the finals leading the Lightning in goals. I'm expecting big things from the Tampa Bay captain in the finals.