The +120 NHL playoff odds of a Colorado-Tampa Bay showdown, despite being the shortest of any possible pair, offer solid value.
Both teams are also favorites to win their respective conferences and qualify for the last dance, with the Avs staring at -250 NHL odds and the Lightning pegged at -182.
While there is merit in backing other finalist pairings, the Avs and Lightning are poised and positioned perfectly to make a run/
Why Lightning vs. Avalanche Is Matchup To Get Behind
The word destiny shouldn’t get tossed around lightly, but the Lightning are the quintessential embodiment of a team destined for a third successive Stanley Cup Final.
The Lightning are a tight-knit group made up of individual champions. Not only are the Lightning loaded with elite talent at every position, but each individual is also awash with an unrivaled will to win.
That unquantifiable desire is a mandatory requirement of a team in pursuit of a third straight Stanley Cup. Led by captain Steven Stamkos, who throws his body in front of pucks with complete disregard for his own well-being, is not only a warrior but a superstar too.
If you look up leading by example in the dictionary, an image of Stamkos splayed across the ice blocking a shot is displayed. Every player on the Lightning follows his lead, taking accountability for each and every on-ice action. That’s what it takes to ascend to the glorious heights Tampa knows so well.
Whether it’s a low-scoring, tight-checking affair or an end-to-end shootout, Tampa’s players are confident of each other’s ability to get the job done.
The Lightning lost Brayden Point to an injury in the first round against Toronto. The loss of such an instrumental player might have been too much for any other team to overcome.
But not the Lightning, who brushed aside the Presidents’ Trophy winners (Florida Panthers) in four games. The Panthers managed to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy just three times in the entire series, again reinforcing the goaltender’s otherworldly superiority.
The former Vezina Trophy winner has six shutouts – the most of any netminder in history – in Tampa’s seven recent series-clinching games. He and his team are 17-0 after losing a playoff contest since the start of the 2019-20 playoffs.
Vasilevskiy’s numbers, five shutouts, a 1.47 goals against average (GAA) and a .942 save percentage, in rebound games are nothing short of remarkable.
The Lightning have won 10 playoff series in a row.
Can the Igor Shesterkin-led New York Rangers, who won all three contests against the Lightning in the regular season, disrupt the heavily loaded, fast-moving apple cart?
Even though the Rangers got the better of Tampa in the regular season, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final takes an altogether different classification of team mettle, which the Lightning have in boundless proportions.
It’s by no means a knock on the Rangers, who defied the odds in staving off elimination in both of the first two rounds, but more of a testament to the Lightning, who are just two rounds away from achieving dynasty status.
Colorado Avalanche Have Learned From Past Playoff Failures
The Colorado Avalanche fell in the second round in each of the previous three seasons, making many question their collective mental fortitude and ability to handle the heightened pressure the playoffs are renowned for.
Nathan MacKinnon was visibly irate in the aftermath of last season’s second-round debacle, in which the Vegas Golden Knights, after Colorado took the first two, won four straight to advance.
That exact fate was staring the Avs in the face against the Blues just a few days ago. St. Louis won Game 5 in astonishing fashion, overturning a three-goal deficit while also leveling with under a minute to play in regulation.
The Avs went back to St. Louis burdened by the thought of recent playoff failures, intent on erasing once and for all the nightmares of years past.
On the cusp of heading into Game 6 overtime, the Blues were a shot away from forcing a Game 7 fervently unwanted by the Avs and anyone partial to the hockey club.
In the most dramatic fashion and from the unlikeliest of heroes, the Avs, thanks to a Darren Helm slapshot with six seconds remaining, vanquished the Blues and eviscerated the haunting memories that weighed heavily on their collective shoulders.
That moment, although immeasurably difficult, was necessary for the Avs, who’ve now persevered in the face of stiff adversity. Overcoming such adversity is a rite of passage for any Stanley Cup winner.
While there’s still a lot of work to do, the Avs can now play loose and free, knowing the seemingly perpetual chatter of their inability to get the job done when it matters most no longer applies.
MacKinnon and his team know that beating the Blues signified so much more than simply winning a playoff series.
With the confidence, momentum and clarity they gained from finally winning a second-round playoff series, the Avs will not let their first opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final since 2002 pass them by.