The Stanley Cup will be back in the building Sunday night when the Colorado Avalanche gets another chance to win their first championship in two decades.
It won’t be easy, though, as they look to take out reigning back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.
The Lightning plan to overcome what was a 3-1 series deficit and push the series to a decisive Game 7, and will have the chance to do so on the home ice, where they are 8-2 this postseason, with only one of those losses coming in regulation. They have the championship experience and the goalkeeper who can help them move forward, but they will have to delay one of the league’s main offenses to get there.
Here’s everything to watch out for in Game 6 of the Sunday night series.
What should you look for in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final?
• Same setup for Lightning. That means no brayden point† Again. Point made a brief appearance in the Stanley Cup final, playing in Games 1 and 2, but clearly wasn’t even close to 100 percent, with just one assist and one shot on target in the two games. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said it is a significant injury for Point and based on that it seems highly unlikely he will be available even if the series moves to a Game 7 on Tuesday night.
Point has appeared in only nine games this postseason. He was injured in Game 7 of Lightning’s First Round win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
[Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]
† Andre Burakovsky could play for Avalanche. On the other side of the ice, the Colorado Avalanche was hoping to get Andre Burakovsky back into the lineup after missing the last three games due to injury. He made a brief appearance on the ice at Colorado’s morning skate, but did not return.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said “we’ll see” when it comes to Burakovsky’s availability.
Burakovsky had two goals and an assist in the first two games of the series, including the Game 1 winning goal in extra time.
He has three goals and eight points in total in the play-offs so far. The Avalanche still have a lot of depth without him (especially with Nazem Kadri back in the lineup) but bringing him back would add even more scoring power to a lineup that has carried the game for most of the series.
[The Wraparound: Avalanche get another chance to win Stanley Cup]
• The goal-tending matchup. This is going to be one of the biggest X factors in this game and series. Colorado has carried the game through the first five games, taking a decisive lead in terms of shots attempts, scoring opportunities and expected goals. Given their dominance in those areas, this series should be well under their control. But that is not it. Tampa Bay is still very much into this and they have their all-world keeper, Andrei Vasilevskiyto say thank you.
These situations are typical when he takes his game to the next level and is at his best.
Vasilevskiy is a great asset to the Lightning in any matchup, but especially here against a team that has a major weakness in goal.
Darcy Kuemper had a great regular season and has a strong NHL track record, but he wasn’t great in the playoffs. Colorado hasn’t needed him to steal many games, but considering who’s playing on the other side of the court, he still has little margin for error. He has allowed more than a handful of questionable goals in this series and he will have to make some saves if the Avalanche is to finish this series.
[RELATED: This is Andrei Vasilevskiy’s time to shine]
† Cale Makari‘s continued excellence. If Colorado wins the series, it seems a given that Cale Makar will be the winner of Conn Smythe, ending an incredible season already including his first Norris Trophy† He is setting historical figures for a defender this ‘postseason’ and continues to average more than a point per game for his career in both the regular season and the playoffs. For a defender, those numbers are staggering.
He also has three multi-point games in this series alone.
Since Brian Leetch joined the New York Rangers in the 1993-94 playoffs, no defender has played four multi-point games in a Stanley Cup Final series.
• Not many teams go down 3-1 and force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final.
Through the NHL:
• Bednar doesn’t want Avalanche to play it safe. That was the word Bednar used to describe the game of the Avalanche in Game 5 of the series. He doesn’t want them to play it safe in Game 6 of the series, but instead play to their strengths. That’s offensively offensive. The wild thing about this is that the Avalanche still have 37 shots on target and were the better side for most of the game. If they can find an extra gear on top of that, it will be a huge challenge for the Lightning.
• Lightning required to limit Avalanche power play. Colorado’s post-season power play was one of the best team performances we’ve seen in modern times, and it’s played a major part in this series. Not only did the Avalanche put in more than 30 percent of their power plays this postseason, they were especially productive on the road. Tampa Bay was able to limit Colorado to just two power play opportunities in Game 5 and conceded no goal. The best penalty kill is to stay out of the box. The second best penalty kill is having a great goalkeeper. Tampa Bay has the latter. You just have to make sure it stays with the first in Game 6 of the series.
2022 NHL Playoff Schedule: Stanley Cup Final
COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 3-2)
Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
Game 3 – Lightning 6, Avalanche 2
Game 4 – Avalanche 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Lightning 3, Avalanche 2
Match 6 – 26 June: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 7 – June 28: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
* If necessary
More NHL news
The Wraparound: Avalanche Gets a Second Chance to Grab Lightning’s Stanley Cup This is Andrei Vasilevskiy’s time to shine Avalanche’s Burakovsky a ‘Possibility’ to Return for Game 6
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports† Give him a call [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AGretz†
Avalanche vs. Lightning: What to Look for in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final originally appeared on NBCSports.com