Rocky Mountain up! 4 takeaways from the avalanche game 6 win | Bleacher report

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    AP Photo/John Bazemore

    The king is dead. Long live the king.

    The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lighting 2-1 Sunday night, winning the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals in six games and ending the Lightning’s two-year run as NHL champions.

    Artturi Lehkonen’s goal at 7:32 of the second period proved to be the decisive goal after Tampa Bay opened the scoring in the first period and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon equaled at 1:54 in the second period.

    Cale Makar, who won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman earlier this week, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs most valuable player.

    He is the first player in league history to win the Hobey Baker Award for Best College Player in the Nation and the Calder Trophy for NHL Rookie of the Year alongside the Norris, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cups.

    The B/R hockey team watched Game 6 and compiled a list of takeaways. Scroll through to see what we’ve come up with and drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.

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    Of the young stars in the league, MacKinnon is one of the best there.

    But even if you’re one of those groups who claim Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews are superior to the Colorado Avalanche forward, he officially has something they don’t.

    The Stanley Cup.

    After five straight games in which he had netted just once with 28 shots, the 2013 No.1 overall winner flexed his championship-ready muscles in the clincher by scoring the crucial goal early in the second and assisting in the Cup winners’ half-time period later.

    He finished the playoffs with 13 goals, tying Edmonton’s Evander Kane for the league lead and 24 points, which was third on the team behind Conn Smythe winner Makar and linesmate Mikko Rantanen.

    MacKinnon, now 26, has scored points per game for five straight years in the regular season and has now done so in all six playoff appearances with Colorado, tallying 93 points in 70 games.

    For comparison, Matthews has 33 points in 39 career playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while McDavid has 55 points in 37 games with Edmonton.

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    AP Photo/David Zalubowski

    Joe Sakic was a player who won the Stanley Cup in Colorado.

    But the steps he took to assemble the Avalanche’s newest championship team as general manager deserve similar praise these days.

    Among the players who lifted the trophy on Sunday night were some coming in trade deadline moves Sakic made to support homegrown core players like MacKinnon and Makar.

    Drafted from Montreal, Artturi Lehkonen had spent parts of six seasons with the Canadiens, including an appearance in the 2020-21 Finals against the Lightning before Sakic picked him on 21-round picks in 2024.

    Veterans Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano, who had played more than 1,500 NHL games together, were brought over from Anaheim and San Jose, respectively, that same week for a one-player draw with two draft picks.

    A few weeks before the 2021-22 season, Sakic acquired Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper for two picks and a player, and a year earlier he snapped New York Islanders defenseman Devon Toews for two picks and immediately signed him to a four-year, 16 $.4 million deal.

    All played significant roles, with the Skaters recording 19 goals and 24 assists in the 20 games of the playoffs, and Kuemper going 10-4 in 16 starts with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .902 save.

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    AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack

    No Avalanche player was doubted more than Kuemper.

    He won the first two games with little sustained pressure on him but was pulled out of Game 3 after giving up five goals and giving up just enough soft ones to make people think the needle would sideways as the series progressed had moved from Tampa Bay.

    Then game 6 happened.

    And while Kuemper barely needed Vezina Trophy quality to stop 22 of 23 shots, he held up well after conceding the game’s first goal in under four minutes.

    He was called out just nine times in the second and just four in the third, but he stoned Nikita Kucherov in the waning moments at close range and never looked awkward or out of place as the Lightning tried in vain to press the action.

    Ryan Sikes @ryan_sikes10

    Kuemper with a big save at Kucherov’s one-off #StanleyCup

    In six games, he stopped 138 of 152 shots (0.908 percent) and averaged 2.45 goals against. And in Games 4-6, despite occasional errors, those numbers improved to .934 and 1.89, respectively, compared to Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, who posted .933 and 2.21 over the same stretch.

4 out of 4

    AP Photo/David Zalubowski

    No team wins a trophy without injuries.

    And while much time was spent discussing the absence of Brayden Point from Tampa Bay and others, the Avalanche locker room was also quite reminiscent of a MASH unit.

    Defenseman Samuel Girard was lost for the remainder of the playoffs after fracturing his sternum after scoring in the second round against the St. Louis Blues, while forward Andre Burakovsky missed the final four games of the matchup against the Lightning after scoring had been shot to the head in Game 2.

    He had scored the overtime goal that ended Game 1.

    Forward Nazem Kadri was injured in the Western Conference title series against Edmonton and didn’t play until Game 4 at Tampa Bay, where he scored the OT game winner, and forward Valeri Nichushkin just skated briefly in a t-shirt and shorts on Sunday morning after he ended up with his right leg in an ice pack after Game 5 on Friday.

    Nonetheless, Kadri and Nichushkin played more than 40 minutes together in Game 6, including time on both the power play and shorthanded, and the Avalanche got just enough players from deep like Darren Helm (9:56 Ice Time). JT Compher (8:56) and Cogliano (9:34) whether the series-defining storm.