Nathan MacKinnon was at a loss for words in Tampa, Florida. The mood lightened and a joke was made by Gabriel Landeskog.
The Colorado Avalanche, who had been knocked from their perch as hockey’s premier team for years running, are once again at the top after defeating the defending champs.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday Night to Win the Stanley Cup
The Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday night to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history and the first time in almost two decades thanks to a goal and an assist from MacKinnon.
Defenseman and playoff MVP Cale Makar said, “It’s just been building over time.” The answer is “just” three years. Some disappointing playoff losses. Everything has been building up to this moment.
The Avs’ core nucleus of MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar won their first championship after being eliminated from the playoffs in the second round the last three years and in the first round last year. The 2016-2017 squad finished last in the league with with 48 points.
MacKinnon, who led the way defensively and offensively in the deciding game, remarked, “It’s hard to convey.” There were a few of rough years in there, but that’s all behind us now. We never gave up hope.
Colorado finally won it all with a potent combination of speed, elite talent, and the wisdom garnered from previous losses, beating a deep and tenacious squad that had won the Cup the previous two seasons.
Andrew Cogliano, a 35-year-old forward, lifted the Cup for the first time this year. “To beat them is maybe a little more enjoyable, to be honest, because they are champions,” he said. They are a winning team because of how they play. And when you can defeat the best, that’s when you know you’ve truly earned it.
Colorado Went on to a 9-1 Record
After he left the field, his teammates finished the job, and Colorado went on to a 9-1 record on the road in the playoffs.
Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was not afraid to ante up in March to acquire Lehkonen, defenseman Josh Manson, and Cogliano, much like the Lightning did numerous times by selling top draught selections and prospects to load up for the best chance to win the Cup. Colorado’s core, which had shown postseason promise but had yet to produce a title, found in them the right complement.
When Sakic was captaining Colorado to its first two championships in 1996 and 2001, he relied on tried-and-true tactics to ensure victory. Sakic put an emphasis on skill, speed, and versatility, much like Pierre Lacroix did for those championship-winning Avalanche teams after the franchise relocated to Denver.
From an initial sweep of Nashville to a hard-fought, six-game series against St. Louis and another sweep of Edmonton, their speed was too much for every opponent they faced on the path to the championship. Defeating Tampa Bay was a different kind of task, as the Avalanche had to ride out blows from the defending champions.