How could the Colorado Avalanche come away with a victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning?
The Colorado Avalanche faced and won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning by a final score of 4-3. Ideally, the remaining games of the series don’t come down to the same way Game 1 did: the Lightning coming back from a 2-0 deficit and tying the Avalanche 3-3 heading into overtime.
Although the Avalanche won the game, going into overtime is not an ideal situation. The Avalanche want to play excellent offense and defense for all 60 minutes of regulation with minimal worry about a comeback attempt from Tampa Bay.
So, how exactly should they go about achieving this?
Colorado Avalanche need to be better than the Tampa Bay Lightning in these categories.
1. Time on Attack
In Game 1, the Avalanche out-shot the Lightning 38-23. All it really takes is for more shots to go into the Lightning’s net than the Avalanche allow themselves, and that’s what happened in Game 1.
The Avalanche cannot afford to have Tampa Bay have more shooting opportunities. How exactly should they go about that? Keeping the puck in Tampa Bay’s end and making sure they get in as many shots as possible.
In Game 1, the Avalanche had more instances in which they had more than two consecutive shots on goal. They did a good job of keeping possession of the puck with 17 takeaways compared to the Lightning’s four.
2. The stars don’t need to score, but it would help
Surprisingly, center iceman Nathan Mackinnon did not score any of the Avalanche’s four goals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Had he scored, however, I think that the score of the game would have been a lot more comfortable for Colorado than it turned out to be.
Depth is an important thing for many sports and the Avalanche clearly have enough depth to win.
Mackinnon’s presence on the ice is key. He was on the ice for 22:06 minutes and has a +13 +/- ratio throughout the playoffs this season and a +83 throughout his entire career.
Right Winger Mikko Rantanen is third on the Avalanche in terms of +/- at +35, trailing defensemen Devon Toews (+52) and Cale Makar (+48).
3. Calling timely timeouts and dumping puck at right times
The Avalanche are going to have to be mindful when it comes to line/shift changes against the Lightning. It would be a bad situation if they catch themselves in mismatches in Game 2. The Avalanche will be the home team in Game 2 and have the advantage of waiting to see the lines that the Lightning put out on the ice before making their own personnel decisions.
Each line has its specialty. For instance, Colorado’s first line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan Mackinnon and Valeri Nichushkin is their speed line and the line people expect to score most frequently. Tampa Bay’s first line consists of Ondrej Palat at left wing, Steven Stamkos at center, and Nikita Kucherov at right wing.
Something that cannot happen on Saturday is mismatches due to fatigue. It’s one thing to be outmatched straight up, but if you can avoid it, avoid it at all costs.