Weekly Lost & Found: 2022 Stanley Cup Final

Woah. Football season doesn’t start for a few months here in the United States, and I don’t think any hockey fans anticipated seeing National Football League (NFL) scores in mid-June. After a close Game 1 that saw the Colorado Avalanche win in overtime, they put up seven goals on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 and now hold a 2-0 Stanley Cup Final (SCF) series lead heading back to Tampa Bay. 

Weekly Lost & Found What's Trending in the NHL
Weekly Lost & Found What’s Trending in the NHL (The Hockey Writers)

This Weekly Lost & Found is pretty straightforward. The Lightning look incredibly “Lost,” while the Avalanche “Found” themselves an early series lead. Though, this isn’t an unfamiliar picture for the Lightning. This edition will drop ahead of Game 3, so sit back and enjoy.

Lost: Tampa Bay Lightning Drop First 2 Games in Colorado

This is the fourth series the Lightning will play this postseason, and they’ve dropped the first game in two previous series, and the first two games in the Eastern Conference Final (ECF). Here in the SCF, they lost the opening pair in Colorado by a combined 11-3. While Game 1 was close, Game 2 was just brutal, as they were outshot 30-16, and their Corsi rating was their worst of the season between both the regular season and playoffs at just a 31.1 Corsi-for percentage (CF%).

Between both SCF games, their power play is 0-for-6 while their penalty kill is just 4-for-7. To make matters worse, they even allowed a shorthanded goal. While having a 59.3 faceoff percentage (FO%) is a bright spot, they aren’t capitalizing on those faceoff wins. 

The team’s backbone, Andrei Vasilevskiy, has struggled in net, but it’s hardly his fault. Captain Steven Stamkos agrees as per the quote linked below. He’s allowed 11 goals through two games with a .838 save percentage (SV%), but has seen 68 shots against, an average of 34 per game, which is above the 31.8 shots-against per game (SA/GP) he saw in his previous 17 games over the first three rounds.

Speaking of Stamkos, he’s been snake bitten this series and has no goals on four shots against the Avalanche. Fellow superstar Victor Hedman on the blue line has noticeably struggled and has contributed just an assist with a minus-4 rating. On the wing, Nikita Kucherov also has a lone assist.

The Lightning have the experience and are a veteran-laden team. If anyone is capable of turning things around and winning 4-of-5, it’s the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champs, and it all starts at home on June 20.

Found: Forecast Calls for a (Colorado) Avalanche of Goals

Through two SCF games, I think it’s fair to say I stand corrected. Now, that’s not to say that the Lightning can’t turn things around, however, Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper won a game in overtime and pitched a shutout in his two games thus far. I didn’t have much faith in him relative to Vasilevskiy in the last Weekly Lost & Found.

Related: Weekly Lost & Found: Oilers, Rangers & Stanley Cup Final Prediction

The first thing to note is veteran forward Darren Helm has been absolutely laying the body with 22 hits in 26:49 time on ice (TOI) in all situations between the two games. Oh, and he’s also added a goal. That’s a Stanley Cup winner (with the 2008 Detroit Red Wings) leading the way. Interestingly, it’s been the Avalanche’s offensive depth that’s really been shining so far. 

Darren Helm Colorado Avalanche
Darren Helm, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Valeri Nichushkin has three goals and an assist this series, further continuing his career year. Cale Makar has scored a pair of goals and Nathan MacKinnon a pair of assists, while captain Gabriel Landeskog has one of each, but they’ve been relatively quiet by their standards. Mikko Rantanen hasn’t found the back of the net, but has five assists.

Let’s get back to Kuemper. After Game 1’s overtime win, where he stopped 20-of-23 shots, he stopped all 16 he faced in Game 2. Interestingly, of the 16 shots, seven were on Lightning power plays and two were on his own team’s power play. He’s stood tall, but credit also has to go to the defense for shutting down the Lightning’s offense. 

Both selfishly and for hockey’s sake, let’s hope this gets to Game 7. People started to count the Lightning out against the Rangers before they rattled off four straight wins, holding them to just five goals in four games. So, it’s best not to underestimate them. On the flip side, things could get scary if MacKinnon gets going and if Nazem Kadri ends up making a return.

Be sure to stick with The Hockey Writers for all off-ice analysis for the SCF. Additionally, our FREE NHL Entry Draft Guide has everything from prospect profiles to team-specific articles, draft rankings, and more as we start to get ready for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.