A favorite trick of hockey broadcasters is to give a close-up of the coaches whose team has just conceded a goal. Because of this, John Cooper often appeared in the broadcast of the second match of the final, and in the interval between 0:5 and 0:7, he seemed to have aged a few years.

What a pain for Tampa!  Colorado Knocked Out Champion 7-0 And Ready To Revolutionize The NHL
What a pain for Tampa! Colorado Knocked Out Champion 7-0 And Ready To Revolutionize The NHL

Enkhael finals have not seen such a total defeat for a long time. Usually such matches are referred to as “teams from different leagues”, and here it did not seem to be an exaggeration. Often, teams that lead in 5-6 goals let go of the reins, allow rivals a little more – but Tampa against Colorado did nothing in any segment of the second match.

0-2 and 11 missed goals – a sad result before moving the series to Florida. Of course, “Tampa” failed the start of the series just two weeks ago. Colorado has had instances where they have let go of series after dominating early game routs. However, this is not the case when, by analogy, one can say “we got out then, we will get out now.” What happens in the final?

Braden Point after a missed goal by Tampa.

Braden Point after a missed goal by Tampa.

Photo: www.nhl.com

It began quite predictably – in our preview of the final, it was stated that the Avalanche from the first minutes of the first match would rush forward, into a furious forecheck and high-speed hockey. You didn’t have to be Vanga to understand such a development of events – it happened, Colorado quickly led 3: 1.

But then everything went a little unexpectedly. It seemed that Tampa had already adjusted to the opponent in the course of the second game, although Cooper’s teams usually took time between games to adapt to this. However, the Colorado, after leaving the locker room, slowed down and seemed to want to finish the game in power saving mode. However, the Lightning showed that their class is enough to undress other people’s opponents simply due to technique and give birth to goals as if out of thin air.

What happened two days later? John Cooper may have had some kind of game plan, but he certainly went down after the third minute when Colorado took the lead again. Jared Bednar did not abandon his tactics. How could you turn off Colorado? Louis showed this in the playoffs for just a couple of games – to block the beginning of the attack, acting pointwise on the player with the puck, and not crushing with numbers. By Game 6, however, the Blues ran out of gas.

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It cannot be said that Tampa did not try to put pressure – it only ended badly. For example, shortly after Nichushkin’s first goal, the Lightning almost went into the next shift together for someone else’s goal, but could not win the fight for the puck, and when Colorado flew off to the counterattack, it looked twice as fast as opponents.

For example, Lavigne’s second puck is also the result of an active but thoughtless forecheck. Perry and Bellmar went beyond the gates of others, where Maroon suddenly broke from his position, because of which all three forwards were on the same narrow patch. McDona is not clear why rolled out very high. As a result, in a moment, four Tampa players were cut off at once, and Colorado ran into a 3-in-1 counterattack.

Video rights belong to Rogers Media Inc. You can watch the video on the Sportsnet YouTube channel.

And after all, the entire match, the Tampa players looked just boiled, making disgusting decisions. We got the majority – in a minute a combination of offside and icing. It was not possible to enter the zone on individual skill, through a pass, too – moreover, in moments when Colorado did not really press. Almost the only positional attack of the “Lightning” in the whole game was created by Bellmar’s trio, and the same combination looked like the only one that could do something in the attack.

It is difficult to put all the blame on Vasilevsky. In the first game – indeed, the first two goals did not look like full-fledged blunders, but what is called “soft goals” in the American tradition, which a contender for the place of the best in history can take. In the second game, you can hang Helm’s goal, but it happened at 0-4 and mediocre play of the Lightning forwards in a foreign zone, which led to a loss and a counterattack.

Andrey Vasilevsky

Andrey Vasilevsky

Photo: www.nhl.com

For the second game, Tampa created 0.35 xG when playing in even lineups. It’s not just the team’s worst game this season, it’s the Lightning’s worst game since expected goals began to be kept (since the 2007/08 season). This cannot even be explained by a hangover – it feels like the monsters from the Space Jam filmed a hockey remake and took away the strength of all the club’s players.

Vyacheslav Fetisov, in the comments to the “Championship”, explained such a loss of form by playing in the middle mountains – teams from Denver in all sports really have an advantage in home matches because of this. But it has never been so total.

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Perhaps Tampa is simply tired. Not only did she have a longer and more difficult path, but also two championship playoffs, where the Lightning played 23 games more than the opponent. Fatigue is a property with a cumulative effect, and matches from a year ago could have an effect now. For example, fatigue after three long playoff campaigns was cited as one of the reasons Los Angeles missed the 2015 playoffs.

What to do next? Hard to say. The Lightning have not yet met with an opponent who would combine high speed, the ability to press hard and hockey intelligence at the same time. Carolina a year ago knew how to run and press, but played (and still plays) very stupidly in attack. “Boston” two years ago could act smart and push, but there the team no longer had enough speed. Looking for recipes for “Dallas” and “Vegas” of the last two playoffs will not work – “Colorado” has matured a lot as a team.

However, as you know, a series is not lost until you lose at home. “Avalanches” play more accurately away and do not turn on their suffocating mode from the first minutes. As two periods of the first game showed, when Colorado does not accelerate to superhuman speeds, Tampa’s talent is enough to play on equal terms. In addition, it is difficult to imagine that the champions will give out two such monstrous matches in a row.

Vasilevsky's save after Valery Nichushkin's throw.

Vasilevsky’s save after Valery Nichushkin’s throw.

Photo: www.nhl.com

Perhaps the champions should simplify the game, throw more into the zone and check Kemper more often from any position – in the first match, he also showed his unreliability. 40 shots in two away games is very low even with an aggressive forecheck. The fact that “Tampa” knows how to play in the attack in general by any means, during these three seasons, everyone understood.

But their rival looks like the best team in the post-lockout NHL so far, even considering the level of competition in the West. Louis Penguins general manager Doug Armstrong, who has put up the most worthy resistance to the Denver team so far, commented on their game: Colorado cannot be stopped. They can only be slowed down a bit.”

So far, however, Tampa has not been able to fulfill even this minimum program.


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