Colorado Avalanche wins attrition and reaches Stanley Cup finals

The final is at least a week away, which could allow the Avalanche to get their starting goaltender and other players healthy. (Author: Gardener)

ColoradoAfter Nazem Kadri was out with an injury, Colorado's Mikko Rantanen moved into the middle to take his place and took a couple of hits on the backs of his legs from Edmonton's Duncan Keith, who sent him onto the ice. He later scored the go-ahead goal in a back-and-forth Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, which the Avalanche won to sweep the Oilers out of the playoffs and play for the Stanley Cup. The Avalanche didn't come out of the series unscathed, but with Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl running on one good leg and defenseman Darnell Nurse recovering from a hip injury, they face the New York Rangers or defend backs Back champions Tampa Bay Lightning in next week's cup final. "It's a battle of attrition," said Jared Bednar in his fifth season as Colorado's coach. "No one gets through without going through a few ups and downs and ebbs and flows to streaks, injuries and adversity, and it seems like the teams that get through it best are usually the ones that end up -- or at least get into it Finals are coming.” After defeating Connor McDavid and the Oilers in four games, the start of this Finals is at least a week away, if not more. While Kadri's left thumb injury makes him a long shot at returning, the extra time-out could allow the Avalanche to mend starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper and other players before they face their biggest playoff task yet. The west final, spanning five or more games, would have risked more injuries for Colorado after winger Andre Burakovsky missed time to block a shock and each shift provided another opportunity for an extra shot in areas without padding was. "A week off will help us with the battered players we have," Rantanen said. We also had a week off after the first round so it's nothing new for us.” Being in the final is new for this core of Nathan MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog, Rantanen, Norris Trophy finalist and defender Cale Makar and the gray-haired blue liner Erik Johnson. Captaining the '96 and '01 championship teams was Joe Sakic, now in his eighth season as general manager and ninth as head of front office, Landeskog assembled the Avalanche to field them around, and he and MacKinnon both put hands on but didn't lead them across the ice. We're making our own history here," Makar said. "Whatever these guys, the leadership group on our team, have decided, I know it was the right decision is." There was no toothless smile in the team picture with the trophy and NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly, and celebrations for the Avalanche were muted.” Everyone is obviously excited about the opportunity ahead, but I don't get the feeling that everyone is happy," said Bednar. "Everyone is happy and it's good, but that's not why we started the season. That wasn't our approach at the beginning and it's certainly very difficult to get here to come, but our guys are already kind of focused and we'll be itching to go here soon.” First, Rangers and Lightning need to settle the Eastern Conference Finals to see who's next for Colorado, which already has home field advantage "It doesn't matter at all from this series," Rantanen said.


Colorado Avalanche defeats the Edmonton Oilers to reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2001

The Colorado Avalanche made a furious comeback in the third period, winning in overtime to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in a 6-5 Game 4 win. (Author: Gardener)

the Edmonton OilersThe Colorado Avalanche reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since winning the 2001 championship on Monday, shattering their reputation as a highly talented team that failed in the playoffs. They made a furious third-half comeback, winning in overtime with a goal from Artturi Lehkonen who defeated the Edmonton Oilers in a 6-5 Game 4 win. Lehkonen, then with Montreal, also put the Canadiens last in the finals of the season with an overtime goal. The Colorado Avalanche celebrate after the Edmonton Oilers won 6-5 with Artturi Lehkonen's overtime goal in Game 4. The Avalanche meet the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Rangers series winner. The Rangers lead the Eastern Conference best-of-seven finals Tuesday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Tampa 2-1 in Game 4. From NFL games to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day. Colorado overcame deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 with goals from Devon Toews, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen to take the lead before Zack Kassian forced overtime. Cale Makar, who scored in the first period, had four assists including Lehkonen's winner. Although the Avalanche stars dominated in settling Game 4, it was the moves made at the close that helped make Colorado the Western Conference champion. General manager Joe Sakic, the team's 2001 captain, brought in defender Josh Manson to bolster the blue line and brought in forwards Lehkonen, Nico Sturm and Andrew Cogliano to help with penalties. Lehkonen had two assists ahead of his winner. Cogliano had a key lockout on Monday night but appeared to injure his hand while playing. The newcomers, along with stars MacKinnon, Makar, Landeskog and Rantanen, formed a powerhouse that took 14 games to get past the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Oilers. Defenseman Sam Girard was injured in the second round and No. 2 center Nazem Kadri missed Game 4 after being pushed onto the boards in Game 3, costing Oilers Forward a one-game suspension. TSN reported that Kadri has had thumb surgery and his status for the cup final is uncertain. "Naz has been one of our best players all season, clutch guy," MacKinnon told TNT. Rangers came out of Sunday's 3-2 Game 3 loss with a battered center depth, but head coach Gerard Gallant is hoping neither Barclay Goodrow nor Ryan Strome will ever be absent. Strome's lower body injury came in his first shift of the second period when he was bumped slightly from behind by Lightning forward Ondrej Palat and appeared to plant awkwardly on his right leg. He came out for another 36-second shift but couldn't continue beyond that. Goodrow was injured during the third period when he blocked a shot by Victor Hedman. "It hurt a little but Barclay is a competitor," said Gallant. Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor has won the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded to the NHL's finest player. The league announced the honor Monday night before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Connor had the second-lowest number of minor penalties in the regular season. He was only penalized twice in more than 1,700 minutes of ice time that included regular shorthanded changes and matchups against top offensive opponents. It's his first time winning the Lady Byng. Last year's winner, Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin, was voted second by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Colorado Avalanche conquers the Edmonton Oilers to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2001


Avalanche rushes back to oust the Edmonton Oilers in overtime and returns to the Stanley Cup Finals

EDMONTON, Alberta – 14 games, 12 wins. Western Conference champions with just two losses along the way. The Avalanche rallied Monday to complete their second win in three best-of-seven series. They defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in overtime and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since winning in 2001. "I'm proud of the boys," said Avs coach Jared Bednar. "It is ... (Author: Gardener)

AvalancheThe Avalanche rallied Monday to complete their second win in three best-of-seven series. They defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in overtime and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since winning in 2001. "I'm proud of the boys," said Avs coach Jared Bednar. "It's just resilience, faith, guys just wanting to win." Winger Artturi Lehkonen hit OT with a 1:19 rebound in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to cap a furious rally. "When I saw the puck go in I was just so happy and now we have a chance to play for the trophy every kid dreams of," said Avs defender Erik Johnson, 34, the oldest member of a franchise. which ended with a league-low 22 wins in 2016–17. “To have this opportunity – so we're excited. I'm excited. So excited." Lehkonen batted a high shot from defender Cale Makar and the puck hit goalie Mike Smith. Smith's contact negated a possible whistle for a high stick and Lehkonen smacked the rebound into an open net. Makar was involved in five goals and scored that first."We had really good resilience in that third period," said left wing and team captain Gabe Landeskog, who hit the Avs 4-3 in a back-and-forth stretch section similar to Game 1. Colorado will face each other face winners from the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals The Avs could take another week-long break between games like they did after beating Nashville in the first round."It's great," said Center Nathan MacKinnon, who pared it 4-4. Also after the third, we went into the dressing room before overtime and just said, 'Hey guys, we're reporting s for this great comeback. In the 4-4 tie, Avalanche center Mikko Rantanen scored a 5-13 power play goal in the third period, Colorado's first lead since going 1-0. But less than two minutes later, Oilers winger Zach Kassian lunged at a loose puck in the crease to forge another tie. Landeskog and MacKinnon put pucks behind Smith at 8:58 and 1:30 to tie it 4-4. Landeskog netted the puck in a moment of chaos in the crease and MacKinnon defeated Smith with a superb wrist shot. The Avs held a 1-0 lead and dominated the game early in the second half before the Oilers equalized with a Zach Hyman goal and then scored twice 1:57 late in the frame to give a 3-1 lead enter the third. Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both backhanded goaltender Pavel Francouz at the breakaway. Leon Draisaitl passed Hyman with a diagonal pass through the neutral zone and Nugent-Hopkins benefited from a defensive end turnover from Avs defender Devon Toews. Just over a minute after Nugent-Hopkins scored, Colorado forward Alex Newhook shot the puck from the defensive end for a minor delay in play. And 52 seconds later, Connor McDavid defeated Francouz with a wrist shot on the power play. In the first minute of the third period, Toews made up for his costly turnover by scoring to put Colorado on goal. His shot from the high slot ricocheted off Edmonton defenseman Cody Ceci and behind Smith. But Edmonton reclaimed a two-goal lead by capitalizing on a 3-on-2 onslaught, with McDavid dropping the puck for Draisaitl and Draisaitl hitting Hyman for a one-off smash. Makar opened the scorer. It came during the game's first power play as a result of Kassian's slashing at Avs defender Jack Johnson. Lehkonen sent the puck low too high to Makar, who found a lane and smashed the puck high over Smith's glove-side shoulder. I'm really proud of them for what they've achieved so far," Bednar said. “Our first goal was the regular season and then rounds 1, 2 and 3, sort of a five-step process so we can be the best team we can be. To get our habits through the regular season and find a way to move forward and keep trying to get better — that's what we did.” Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who injured himself early in Game 1 of this series, was called for the game released and supported Francouz. ... Mikko Rantanen, a natural right winger, replaced the injured Nazem Kadri as the Avs' second-line center. Edmonton again started with 11 forwards and an additional defender (Kris Russell).


Colorado Avalanche defeats Oilers and advances to Stanley Cup Finals

Artturi Lehkonen scored a 1:19 in overtime as Colorado capped a four-game win over Edmonton in the Western Conference Finals (Author: Gardener)

Colorado AvalancheArtturi Lehkonen sends a team to the Stanley Cup final for the second year in a row. Lehkonen scored a 1-19 goal in overtime and Colorado rallied to beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 on Monday night, ending a four-game win in the Western Conference Finals and promoting the Avalanche for the first time since 2001 again in the Stanley Cup final. Colorado meets the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and two-time Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 4 takes place in Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Lehkonen repeated his performance from last season when he scored in OT in Game 6 to send the Montreal Canadiens to the finals against eventual repeat champion Tampa Bay. "Cale (Makar) took the shot," said Lehkonen. Lehkonen is the second player in NHL history and the first in 83 years to score in overtime to send his club to the championship series more than once in his career. "Everyone knows how good he is, how resilient he is," said Mikko Rantanen of his colleague Finn Lehkonen, who was acquired from Colorado at the close. “He checks, he defends hard, he kills penalties, plays on the power play, he scores big goals, goes in the hard areas. It's fun to watch and I'm really glad we got him and he showed why we gave so much for him.” Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Rantanen also scored for Colorado . "Our main thing is just trying to be resilient and making sure we play the same game every night," Makar said. Zach Hyman scored twice for the Oilers. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian also scored for Edmonton. "I don't think anyone necessarily expected us to be here," said Draisaitl. “With that in mind, we expected to be here, we want to be here and we want to be further. McDavid sees the Oilers' playoff run as a step in the right direction. "It feels like footsteps," McDavid said. You become a playoff team, then most years you get there and they go a little bit away. They learn that lesson and then it's their time to win. You're looking at a Colorado team that's been in this situation many, many times, and obviously they're knocking on the door right now. The teams scored six goals combined in the third half -- four by Colorado, who came back from a 2-4 deficit despite going 15-13 up. "It was definitely a great comeback win," said Lehkonen. "We talked at the second break about how we just need to find our game and pull through with it." Rantanen looked to complete Colorado's comeback, scoring a power-play goal with just over five minutes remaining to give the Avalanche a 5-4 advantage. But the Oilers stormed back and forced overtime when Kassian scored at 16:38 to level it to 5-all. Lehkonen scored 1:19 into overtime, a goal that stood for a high stick after checking. The Avalanche improved to 11-2 in the playoffs, including a perfect 7-0 away. Only six other teams in NHL history have strung together at least seven straight road wins in a postseason. "I've been waiting for a chance to play a trophy for a long time," said veteran defender Erik Johnson. "I saw the puck in, I was just so happy that it went in and we went through and now we have a chance to take the trophy." Colorado opened the scoring at 3:46 on a power play, as Lehkonen Hyman stole the puck and fed Makar before firing a shot through traffic and hitting Smith's left post to score his fifth goal of the playoffs. Trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Oilers got underway at 7:39 of the second period when Hyman took a pass from Draisaitl out of the rush and backhanded Francouz past the glove for his 10th goal in the to make the playoffs. Nugent-Hopkins gave Edmonton its first lead at 4:57 p.m. when Toews and MacKinnon crossed their signals. The Oilers center jumped on the turnover and hit Francouz with another backhand pull - this time to the blocker side - with his sixth as Draisaitl, who was playing with an injured leg, was treated after limping onto the bench. Colorado rookie Alex Newhook was booed for delaying the game for shooting the puck over the glass late in the period, and Edmonton made the visitors pay as McDavid scored his 10th goal of the postseason and 31st point and Francouz defeated by another Draisaitl feed for a 3-1 lead at 1:06 in the semifinals. McDavid and Draisaitl become the eighth pair of teammates in NHL history to each score 30 points in a playoff. Colorado came back 31 seconds after the third when Toews' shot hit Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci up front as he struggled with MacKinnon. Hyman scored his second goal of the night and 11th overall in a 4-on-2 onslaught, sending an ankle shot off a Draisaitl setup at 3:55 past Francouz for a 4-2 lead. Landeskog brought Colorado back to the front at 8:58 a.m. in a mad scramble after Smith flipped the puck. Edmonton got a power play with less than nine minutes left and wanted to catch up by two, but Draisaitl's shot off the side of Francouz's goal was as close as the Oilers would come. MacKinnon equalized on his 11th with a high shot. Smith had 6:30 left in regulation, setting the stage for Rantanen's opening goal, his fifth of the playoffs. But Kassian scored his second goal, putting a puck in the crease after Draisaitl's first shot at 3:22 to the left. Colorado got past the Oilers in four straight games despite losing Game 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper and winger Andre Burakovsky to injuries before Kadri went down on Saturday. To make that happen, you've done some good things and I think we can't lose sight of that, but it takes a lot more to find a way to reach the Stanley Cup Finals," Edmonton -Coach Jay Woodcroft said.


Avalanche into the cup final for the first time since 2001

The Colorado Avalanche worked overtime but managed to outlast the Edmonton Oilers in a rollercoaster Game 4 on Monday night, securing their second win of the postseason and a long-awaited berth in the Stanley Cup Finals. (Author: Gardener)

AvalancheEDMONTON, Alberta — The Colorado Avalanche is heading into its first Stanley Cup final since 2001 after beating the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in overtime in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Monday. And that place in the cup final really felt like it had been a long time coming. After shaking hands with the Oilers, the Avs had their on-ice moment with the Clarence S. Captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was drafted runner-up by Colorado in 2011 and has been with the Avalanche ever since, didn't want to miss out on any of the accumulated experience considering how far the team has come in its career. "I would probably be lying if I told you that one day we would be here in the 2016-17 season," Landeskog said, referring to the last year Colorado didn't make the playoffs. The job isn't done yet and it's going to be another tough streak, but we'll get some rest here and get ready to go the longest-tenured players. Johnson remembers well the lean years Colorado fought to finally reach that peak. "The last time I came to Colorado was that the team was dead," Johnson said. You never know when that opportunity will come along. It's "I've played [857] games, 15 years. I've been waiting a long time to get the opportunity to play a trophy. I checked the puck, I was just so happy. Landeskog also shared that emotion, recounting the bond he and Johnson have formed over the years. "He's been there since my first training camp," said Landeskog. And now, eleven years later, we're sitting here going to the [Finals]." There was no guarantee Colorado would get the job done in Game 4. Edmonton had two multigoal leads Monday, including a 4-2 lead in the third period.It was in that last frame that the Avalanche really got rolling, however, with three unanswered goals - from Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.When the Avs led 5-4, Zack Kassian grabbed another for the Oilers to switch Once there, Artturi Lehkonen needed just 1:19 to end Edmonton's hopes of reaching the cup final with his first goal and third point of the night team into a cup final (he did the same thing last year when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in the conference finals) made Lehkonen one of only two NHL players of all time made the feat (along with Gordie Drillon, who made it twice with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1938 and 1939). Lehkonen has been a key addition to the Avalanche lineup since being acquired from Montreal at close for potential Justin Barron and a second-round pick. On Monday, MacKinnon said that was a fraction of what Lehkonen was worth. Cale Makar had five points in Game 4, including an assist for Lehkonen's winner, and it felt like the game had taken ages to develop. "When I saw him with the puck up front, I said [Lehkonen] it felt like a minute when he had it on his racquet," Makar said. I'm like, 'Will this go online?' That was a bit interesting, but definitely exciting. The third-half deficit could have been enough to shake Colorado's confidence in finishing off the Oilers. But the Avalanche were a resilient team throughout the playoffs. "We had a couple of goals going into the third game and we're going to keep going," said Rantanen. We just have to get through the second quarter and get over it and we know if we play our game we can create chances and get back into games. However, the Oilers gave Colorado everything it could take. And Leon Draisaitl played a big part in that, despite being far less than 100 percent healthy. Draisaitl has struggled with various ailments throughout the postseason, which have evidently limited his mobility on the ice. And then Edmonton's top line skater was injured again in the second half of Game 4 as he squirmed onto the bench in apparent agony but refused to leave the game. He barely missed a shift before adding an assist for Connor McDavid's goal, one of Draisaitl's four points that night. Draisaitl now trails Wayne Gretzky by three plus points (seven) in most playoff games. "There are a lot of guys who go through painful things like this," Draisaitl said of his health. "I'm not going to do this about myself. There are a lot of guys who play through injury." Draisaitl and McDavid combined for seven points in Game 4 and finished the postseason with 32 and 33 points, respectively. Despite their efforts, Edmonton fell short of its ultimate goal. "It feels like footsteps," McDavid said. They become a playoff team. They get there most years and do some running, and they learn that lesson, and then it becomes their time to gain hip flexors. Colorado has also grappled with injuries, including Nazem Kadri. It's unclear if Kadri can return in the cup final, but at least the Avs now have time to heal the various bumps and bruises in their lineup because what comes next will be the Avalanche's biggest challenge and the wait will be well worth it , although it may be a week or more before the Eastern Conference Finals where the New York Rangers lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 2 -1 -- to conclude "It's important to try to get some rest and try getting some guys back to health," said Colorado coach Jared Bednar. Our boys should be really happy and enjoy it for a few days. It wasn't our approach in the beginning and it's certainly very difficult to get married; but our boys are already quite focused and we'll be itching to get here soon in a few days."


Why the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals needs to be seen to be believed

The electrifying Avs looked dominant in all phases of the game as they defeated the Oilers. Here are five factors to keep in mind when making the finals. (Author: Gardener)

AvalancheAfter dominating three rounds of their postseason competition, the Colorado Avalanche are heading into the Stanley Cup Finals. The Avs superstars delivered as Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar both make strong arguments for Conn Smythe. But they've had an excellent performance from deep players as well, including a series-winning goal by Artturi Lehkonen in Game 4 against the Edmonton Oilers. With their second consecutive win of the postseason, it took the Avalanche just 14 games to defeat three opponents. As Colorado is one step closer to the cup, let's examine the key factors. Let's start with the facts: The elimination of Edmonton made the Avalanche only the sixth team in the last 20 seasons to win a Conference Finals series. That puts Colorado in elite company—but not necessarily on the fast track to a Stanley Cup win. Only two of those five teams—the 2009 Anaheim Ducks and the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks—won the trophy. The 2003 Ducks and 2019 Boston Bruins lost in Game 7 of their respective cup finals. The 2013 Bruins lost in Game 6. This Colorado team is a unique beast. The Avalanche swept their first-round series against the Nashville Predators without starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper being available for nearly half of it. They did the same thing in a conference final against the Oilers, relying on Pavel Francouz as seamlessly as they did Kuemper. Goaltenders can make or break a playoff run; Colorado rolled with whether Kuemper and Francouz were dominant or decent. When the Avalanche's top line didn't fire, their second and third units scored in time, or Colorado made a crucial contribution from an unlikely hero (for example, Darren Helm's goal with 5.6 seconds left in Game 6 vs. St. Louis to). punch Colorado's ticket to the conference finals). This is a team built to win. Yes, the Avalanche have impressive star-quality players. Check out the physical exertion of Andre Burakovsky, who has been injured once before in the series, early in Game 4 to get the puck out of Colorado's end. As Nathan MacKinnon so eloquently put it after Colorado's 4-2 Game 3 win over the Oilers, the Avalanche enjoy playing "boring and gross" defensive-heavy hockey as much as they enjoy scoring eight goals. When one area of ​​the team falters, another area comes through. Think back to Colorado's power play struggles early in the series against Edmonton. The Avalanche possessed the NHL's seventh-best power play in the regular season (24%), but in the first three games Colorado was 2-to-14 (14.3%) on power play, the lowest performance of any remaining team in the NHL postseason field . The Avalanche instead only dominated 5-on-5 and turned that into a real advantage, scoring 14 consistently strong goals and averaging over five goals per game in the streak. And their power play came alive in Game 4, scoring on both occasions. They don't get bogged down in thinking or playing too much, or straying from the basic structure that makes them a good team. It speaks to the confidence Colorado coach Jared Bednar clearly has in his group -- and the confidence his players have in each other -- that the Avalanche genuinely show no signs of panic, no matter how good or bad a game is going. The Tampa Bay Lightning had more than a week between their second-round win over the Florida Panthers and the start of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. The Lightning lost Game 1, 6-2. Then they lost Game 2, 3-2. The Rangers came hot after a Game 7 win over the Carolina Hurricanes and had all the momentum on their side. Will these early losses ultimately decide the fate of Tampa Bay? More importantly for Colorado, are the Avs heading into similarly choppy waters? Colorado could face several days of practice before playing another competitive game. It's not an ideal scenario, but it's one the Avalanche have already had experience in this postseason. Colorado threw Nashville overboard in Game 4 on May 9th. It didn't open the second-round series against St. Louis for eight days and still won Game 1, 3-2 in overtime. The Avalanche likely felt the effects of a layoff, but -- as mentioned above -- Colorado doesn't let adversity get bogged down. The waiting game can also be positive. As Tampa and New York rage, Nazem Kadri (with a broken thumb out) is getting closer to a potential cup final. The Avalanche doesn't need any hard exercise or workouts at this point. Colorado was 2-0 in the regular season against both Tampa Bay and New York (one of the wins against the Lightning came in a shootout). There's an argument for avoiding the Blitz just because they've been so resilient in the playoffs — overcoming a 2-0 deficit to start the Eastern Conference Finals would add to that narrative — and the psychological mojo they possess go for a three-peat. Beating the Hurricanes after losing their first two games in the second round has (rightly) given Rangers confidence. The Blueshirts shoved the Lightning around early in the conference finals and have barely lost an inch of ground since. Whichever team emerges from this series will be a formidable opponent for Colorado. And yet, with Igor Shesterkin from New York or Andrei Vasilevskiy from Tampa Bay, a world-class goalkeeper is waiting in the circle. All things being equal, Colorado can do well against either team as the Avalanche are adaptable and able to draw from different facets of their game as needed. Perhaps it comes down to avoiding Tampa Bay's mystique, which is why Colorado could — secretly — draw for the Rangers. New York's depth is strong, their goalkeeping is terrific, they're a physical group and solid defensively. Avs-Rangers would be a fantastic series. And - bonus - would give us all a new cup champion after two years of being on top for Lightning. The longer Colorado has before the next round starts, the better off Kadri will be. Broke his thumb when Evander Kane boarded it in Game 3 against Edmonton and Kadri will be motivated to take part in the first cup final of his career. Colorado will be just as hopeful of Kadri coming back. The forward has six goals and 14 points in the playoffs so far and excelled with Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen against the Oilers. Andre Burakovsky has slipped into a second-line role for the Avalanche due to Kadri's absence and could be a good replacement there in the future. But if Colorado faces a completely healthy lineup in Tampa Bay or New York, Kadri's absence could be a bigger factor. He's also good on the faceoff circle (50.5% in the postseason), has earned big minutes on the power play (3:11 per game), and of course has a way of getting under everyone's skin. Intangibles often take center stage this time of year, and Kadri's can be especially helpful for Colorado. Jared Bednar has not commented on any player's health in the post-season, so it's unlikely he'll be providing any updates on Kadri any time soon. What we do know for sure is that Colorado is better with Kadri than without him.


The converted Rangers are the model for the team that the Flyers could have been

After years of push, push, push and all attempts to win a Stanley Cup, the team would finish eighth of eight dead last in the NHL's Metropolitan Division and amass a meager 77 points. The team would fire Vigneault and figure out what to do next. At the beginning of February 2018, the new ... (Author: Gardener)

RangersThe Flyers' Scott Laughton checks out Rangers forward Artemi Panarin during a game in April. The team was coached by Alain Vigneault, and the team was going nowhere. After years of push, push, push and all attempts to win a Stanley Cup, the team would finish eighth of eight dead last in the NHL's Metropolitan Division and amass a meager 77 points. The team would fire Vigneault and figure out what to do next. In early February 2018, the New York Rangers therefore sent a letter to their fans, signed by then-President Glen Sather and then-General Manager Jeff Gorton. "The decisions we make going forward," Gorton later told reporters, "will be based on [the] long-term approach and not trying to salvage this season." More than four years later, the Rangers are in the Eastern Conference Finals and lead 2-1 in a row over two-time Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the regular season, they won 52 games and accumulated 110 points, which earned them fourth place in the conference. They have a collection of dynamic forwards, one of the best defenders in the league in Adam Fox and perhaps the best goalkeeper in the league in Igor Shesterkin. The Flyers don't have those things. They don't have a dynamic offensive player, let alone a collection of them. They have Ivan Provorov, who by now should be one of the best defenders in the league, but instead was a player whose quality of play completely depends on the quality of his blue line partner. They finished last in the Metropolitan this season, eighth out of eight, and it will likely be a long time before they climb out of those depths. The Flyers' Joel Farabee can't stop Rangers' Andrew Copp from scoring an empty goal in New York's 4-0 win at the Wells Fargo Center on April 13. No end in sight: Why the Flyers' 47-year drought isn't showing any signs of an end soon It might seem like a small gesture for a franchise to announce that it's rebuilding as the Rangers did with this letter . If anything, Sather and Gorton risked alienating the team's fans by saying, Hey, don't expect us to be good for a while. The Flyers have attempted to walk the line between rebuilding and competing, and they have suffered from their indecisiveness. In July 2016, the Rangers traded forward (and future Flyer) Derick Brassard and a seventh-round draft pick to the Ottawa Senators. In return, New York got a second-round pick and a player who has been a disappointment since the Senators drafted him No. 6 in the 2011 draft. That player was Mika Zibanejad, and that trade has proven to be one of the most one-sided in recent NHL history. Brassard, as he generally was throughout his career, was a solid player for the Senators, who advanced 16-17 to the Eastern Conference Finals, losing to the Penguins in seven games. But Zibanejad has become a star at Rangers. He's averaged 38 goals per 82 games over his last four seasons, and he has 10 goals and 24 points in his first 17 games this postseason. More importantly, Zibanejad was just 23 when the senators traded him for a player they believed could now help them win. Those kinds of moves -- abandoning long-term promises for potential short-term gains -- defined the Flyers for years, and they're still paying the price. They showed patience with a player they had invested in. After Rangers picked Chris Kreider as the No. 19 draft pick in the 2009 draft, they had to wait three years for him to join them while he remained at Boston College. They then waited until February 2020, four months before he was due to become an unrestricted free agent, to sign him to a seven-year contract with an affordable $6.5 million annual cap. Up until then, according to a longtime NHL observer, Kreider was "a good teammate, a guy who spurted on that he could be a star but could never pull it all together." However, he has the Rangers generous for their dedication and scored 52 goals this season - including 26 on the power play, the most in the league - and another 10 so far in these playoffs. The average game in 2021-22 featured 6.3 goals, the highest such number since 1995-96. "They do a great job of letting stars be stars," said AHL President and former NHL General Manager Scott Howson. "That's what people come for." Given these trends, it made sense for teams to risk players with top-notch offensive skills. With Kreider, Zibanejad, Fox (whom they acquired in a trade with Carolina) and Artemi Panarin (whom they signed as a free agent in 2019), the Rangers have made big strides... and bonded. The planes lack this firepower. Great players saw them as a worthwhile goal. He wasn't that excited about coming to Philadelphia. Y. wanted to play for Rangers and effectively forced the Hurricanes to trade him. Five players — Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil, K'Andre Miller, Kaapo Kakko and Braden Schneider — who contributed to Rangers' postseason run were first-round picks by the team between 2017 and 2020. While New York has hoarded picks and hit on them traded the Flyers picks in the deals from Shayne Gostisbehere (a runner-up and a seventh) and Rasmus Ristolainen (a first and a runner-up), and they missed several draftees: Nolan Patrick, German Rubtsov, etc. One: With the 19th overall pick in 2018, the Flyers acquired center Jay O'Brien, who, now 22, has not yet signed with them and will remain at Boston University for one year. Three picks later, Rangers brought in defenseman K'Andre Miller, who has appeared in all 82 games this season and is averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs. Second: Shesterkin, the favorite for the Vezina Trophy, was a fourth-round pick in 2014. The Flyers had only four of their fourth-round picks in the last 11 drafts in the suit. These four players - Maksim Sushko, Connor Bunnaman, Mikhail Vorobyev and Taylor Leier - have played 146 games combined and scored five goals. None of the four are still with the Flyers organization.


Justin Bieber Headed For Lightning Rangers Game 7 Conflict?

His concert is scheduled at Madison Square Garden on the same day as Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. (Author: Gardener)

Justin Bieber Headed For Lightning Rangers GameHis concert is scheduled at Madison Square Garden on the same day as Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. (#1 bad Justin Bieber song pun) Here's what the pop star might say to his Beliebers if he has to cancel a scheduled concert at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, June 14. If the Lightning-Rangers Eastern Conference Finals lasts seven games, Game 7 is scheduled to be played Tuesday, June 14 at Madison Square Garden. This isn't the first time we've seen a potential conflict between a concert and a sporting event. Back in 2015, the Astros and Taylor Swift were lined up over a potential scheduling issue, but the Astros showed good intentions (bad Bieber Song pun #2) and took care of the issue months in advance: The Bieber Rangers issue double booking means that the Bieber concert will be postponed at very short notice or the Eastern Conference Finals would have to be postponed. Game 7 between Lightning and Rangers could not be rescheduled to Monday June 13th due to Biebs not only playing at MSG One Time. (bad bieber song pun #3) He also does a show on the 13th at MSG. A source told me Tuesday that if there was a conflict, the Bieber show would be pushed back a day to Wednesday June 15, which would have some Bieber fans asking, "What do you mean?" Pun No. 4) The Bieber fans should be happy that the concert was simply postponed and not cancelled, because then they would have been really unlucky. Here are some other yummy (Bad Bieber Song Pun #5) replies I've gotten in the last 24 hours since I tweeted about this message: That's not great considering you're a famous franchise in Boston and an all-time great in Steph Curry have gone head to head. 4. I've always tried not to rely on the easy route of beating up some nonsensical lists or rankings in Traina Thoughts. I'm waiving that rule today to point out that this is one of the worst lists I've ever seen. When you make a list, try to give it some credibility. 5. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that longtime Yankees spokesman John Sterling will cut his schedule in the second half of the season and miss about 25-30 away games. If you've been following me for a while, you know there are few people in the world of sports broadcasting I like more than the man named Pa Pinstripe (who once appeared on the SI Media Podcast), so this pissed me off. If you're a Sterling fan, enjoy it as much as you can now. 6. The latest SI Media Podcast features a conversation with The Athletic's media reporter and former SI writer Richard Deitsch. We also spoke about Deitsch's decision to stop tweeting on February 20 and when he will be back on the social media service. Deitsch is followed by the weekly segment “Traina Thoughts” with Sal Licata from WFAN Radio and SNY TV in New York. Jimmy and Sal break down the surreal fantasy football controversy between Tommy Pham, Joc Pederson and Mike Trout, share their thoughts on Derek Jeter joining Twitter and answer emails from listeners. You can listen to the podcast below or download it from Apple, Spotify and Google. 7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Today, June 7th, would have been the 64th birthday of Prince, who still has the best Super Bowl halftime show ever. Be sure to catch up on previous issues of Traina Thoughts and watch the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.


Rangers vs. Lightning Game 4 Predictions and Player Props: Igor Shesterkin's 49 saves aren't enough in Game 3

Check out our experts' best bets for Game 4 between the Lightning and Rangers as both teams try to get closer to the Stanley Cup. (Author: Gardener)

Lightning Game 4 PredictionsPickswise provides with exclusive sports betting content including tips, analysis, tools, games and sports betting deals to help bettors get in on the action. Back-to-back Stanley Cup champions were able to step up to the Victory Column in this series after the Lightning lost their first two games to the Rangers. A Game 3 win guaranteed the series would go at least five games and return to New York for Game 5. However, there is one more game scheduled for Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, and our pundits did their best. The home team has won all three games of that series, and the Tampa Bay Lightning go into Game 3 as the -175 moneyline favorites at Caesars Sportsbook. New York is an underdog with +155 moneylines and the total for today's game is 5.5. Caesars lets new users place their first bet up to $1,500 completely risk-free! A $1,500 bet on the blitz to break up the streak will return just over $857 in profit, and you can make that bet completely risk-free at Caesars Sportsbook. Let's see who our pundits picked to win the deciding Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight. Caesars Sportsbook is offering up to $1,500 Risk Free Bet to New Users! All you have to do is click here to claim your risk free bet in time for Game 4 between the Rangers and Lightning Tuesday night! The Lightning secured our Game 3 prediction by beating the Rangers in regulation time on Sunday. It was a close decision, however, as Ondrej Palat, with just 41.6 seconds left in the game, scored the winning goal. As these teams proved evenly matched, it's become apparent that it's worth paying the extra price for the direct moneyline instead, and we're back to Lightning for Game 4. This series was not only hard-fought, but buts the Lightning also had 20 overtime games this season, and the Rangers are the most in the playoffs. Regardless, the Lightning should once again charge past the Rangers while they have home field advantage on ice. They're now 5-1 in Tampa this postseason after going 27-8-6 at home in the regular season, and they've clearly made adjustments to penetrate the Rangers' strong defense. The Lightning set a postseason franchise record with 51 shots on goal in Game 3 against Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. After the collapse of Game 3, it was clear that the Lightning Superstars needed to step up, and they did just that. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were relentless, scoring seven points and a combined 16 shots on goal. Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to his usual form on Sunday, knocking out the Rangers at close range several times. Just as the Rangers roleplayers shone at Madison Square Garden, the Lightning roleplayers did the same on Sunday in Tampa. Palat scored the winner and Corey Perry assisted Stamkos' goal. After seeing their cohesion with the Superstars in Game 3, the Lightning should even that streak before heading back to the Big Apple, and we predict Tampa Bay will win Game 4 on Tuesday night. FanDuel Sportsbook is giving away $200 in free bets to all new users who sign up and wager $5 on any sporting event. Win or lose, FanDuel gives you $200 in Free Spins in your account! Games 2 and 3 ended with only five goals and probably should have been even less. Tampa's defense also improved, and Victor Hedman led a unit that allowed just 30 shots on goal. Both teams dominated defensively throughout the regular season, and their numbers have reflected that this postseason. New York and Tampa have averaged fewer than three goals per game in these playoffs, and both goalies should remain at their best. As such, we expect Game 3 to remain under 5.5 goals on Tuesday night. With Kucherov and Stamkos coming through with their goalscorers in the last two games, it's time to think outside the box. It was followed by Ondrej Palat, who scored the Game Winner for the Lightning in Game 3, and now it's time for Anthony Cirelli to shine. Tampa might have had a hard time starting this streak, but Cirelli didn't. Despite being kept pointless on Sunday, he recorded two assists in Game 1, followed by another in Game 2. Although all but one of his points were assists this postseason, it's still worth taking his point total as he money is balanced. Cirelli still shoots the puck quite often and has had four shots on target in three of his last four games. Averaging 20 minutes of ice time per game this postseason, Cirelli should have plenty of opportunities to assert himself and we predict he'll score at least a point against Rangers in Game 4. Free Bet on NBA Finals, NHL Playoffs MLB and more! New York Rangers: Watch Full Eastern Conference Finals Schedule vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | Here's how to get tickets to Game 5 of the New York Rangers-Tampa Bay Lightning series


Rangers teammates don't want Jacob Trouba to switch despite penalties

Trouba lost three penalties to Lightning in Game 3, but teammates call him "a rock." (Author: Gardener)

Jacob Trouba-- Adam Fox and K'Andre Miller both called teammate Jacob Trouba "a rock" for the Rangers, who went 2-2 in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which continues with Game on Tuesday: 1 in the lead are 4 in the Amalie Arena. Defenders expressed their support for Trouba after he was called out for three minor penalties in Rangers' 3-2 Game 3 loss on Sunday. Tampa Bay scored on two of the three power plays it received thanks to Trouba's penalties, erasing an early Rangers 2-0 lead. "It's not his fault," Fox said after the game. “Of course some calls happen. About the beginning of the third [a holding call to Tampa's Anthony Cirelli 37 seconds into halftime], I don't know about that. But you know 'Troubs' he's played a lot of games, he's a leader for us. "I know he was pretty dialed in in practice today," Miller, Trouba's regular partner on defense, said Monday after the Rangers' short skate at the Amalie Arena. He's the type of player who recovers from these games. Trouba was a physical force in the playoffs. Trouba leads Rangers into the playoffs with 25 penalties, but coach Gerard Gallant agrees. "Penalties happen," Gallant said Monday. “[Trouba] plays a lot of minutes. So unfortunately he got some penalties. But I want him to play the same game. Troubs is a great defender and plays hard for us and plays hard. So some hard calls, you know, the little trips, but those are penalties, so you gotta call them. Gallant was less concerned with Trouba's tough Game 3 and more concerned with finding a way for his team to play tougher on Tuesday. The task may be more difficult when Rangers don't have Ryan Strome or Barclay Goodrow. Both players were injured in Sunday's game. Strome left the game early, but Gallant expects him to play; Goodrow finished the game, but Gallant seemed less sure of his status. Both were among the regulars who didn't train on Monday. "Tampa is a good team and we knew the pushback [Sunday] was going to be there, you know what I mean?" he said. "They were 2-0 down when they came home so we knew they were going to play their best game and they did. They won a lot of loose puck fights and they were brave and played a brave game. "We still had a chance to win that game but we didn't do it," he said. “But again, we know they won't give you anything for free. So they know we're going to have to take it from them... They're not going to give us anything."