TAMPA, Fla. — Josh Manson nonetheless had his luggage half-packed from the Avalanche’s final time on the street once they returned house with the prospect to win the Stanley Cup.
That didn’t occur, and now he and his teammates can be confronted with Recreation 6 on Sunday evening towards the Lightning. The sport can be at Amalie Enviornment, the place Tampa Bay hoisted the Cup a yr in the past to win its second straight championship.
The Avalanche, attempting to win their first championship as a bunch and the group’s first since 2001, know the immense problem they’ve in entrance of them towards a determined opponent that has extra expertise this deep into the playoffs.
“You must have that desperation as a result of it’s the finals,” Manson mentioned Saturday in Denver earlier than flying to Florida’s Gulf Coast. “You’ll be able to’t take a look at the quantity of video games that we have now left. You must be determined each single sport.”
Colorado would desperately wish to keep away from a second consecutive loss, which might units up Recreation 7 again in Denver on Wednesday and would transfer Tampa Bay one victory away from a three-peat. And the Avalanche also have a recipe for dealing with this case towards a extra seasoned playoff opponent.
Cale Makar and the Avalanche can win their first Stanley Cup since 2003.AP
That got here within the second spherical, when the Avalanche went up 3-1 within the second spherical towards rival St. Louis — the final group to win the Cup earlier than the Lightning’s run started in 2020. Very similar to Friday evening, Colorado misplaced a one-goal sport at house to the Blues earlier than bouncing again to shut out the collection on the street in St. Louis.
Manson mentioned the Avalanche discovered some desperation from that sequence, however the stakes are increased within the last, with the Stanley Cup within the constructing.
“I understand how a lot our guys need it now: They’ve labored for it,” coach Jared Bednar mentioned. “There’s a certain quantity of stress and nervousness that it’s a must to attempt to put out of your head so you may carry your finest efficiency.”
The Lightning know all about these psychological gymnastics, together with some new methods they’ve picked up this postseason. The convention last towards the Rangers was the primary time they trailed a collection since getting swept within the first spherical in 2019 (the collection loss that set the course for this run) they usually had not fallen behind 3-1 till now.
Having already staved off elimination as soon as, and armed with the expertise of successful 11 consecutive collection, coach Jon Cooper and his group know precisely what to anticipate from both sides in Recreation 6.
“There’s little question we’re higher outfitted in these conditions since you type of really feel [like] you place your self within the footwear of the opposite groups, too, and what they have to be considering, what you’re considering whenever you’re in these conditions and the way video games performed out,” Cooper mentioned. “It’s expertise. … And expertise issues.”
Freshest for the Avalanche is the painful expertise of blowing the prospect to hitch the Lightning as the one groups over the previous seven years to win the Cup at house. However earlier playoff disappointments have steeled this core group to deal with adversity, and within the speedy aftermath of their 3-2 loss in Recreation 5, leaders have been already placing it within the rearview mirror.
“We’ll bounce proper again,” captain Gabriel Landeskog mentioned, pointing to the significance of getting a brief reminiscence within the playoffs. “It’s a seven-game collection. It’s not purported to be simple, and it’s not going to be.”