Losing the first game of a playoff series isn’t that big a deal for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Any team in any league prefers to win the opener in a best-of-7 to greatly enhance its chance of taking the series, but Tampa has been down this road before.
13 of the previous 17 teams to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in OT went on to win the series (76.5%)#GoAvsGo
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 16, 2022
This year in the playoffs, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are 1-3 in Game 1, including Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.
(I am sure fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs do not want another reminder about how the Leafs crushed Tampa 5-0 on May 2 to start the series but in the crunch, the Lightning won the pivotal game of them all, Game 7 on the road 2-1 on May 14).
Last year the Lightning went 3-1 in the first game and in 2020 when they also captured the Cup they were just 2-2 in the opener.
Add it up and over three seasons Tampa is just 6-6 in Game 1.
A good part of the reason why Tampa gets better after the opener is Andrei Vasilevskiy, the world’s top goalie, who tends to have slow starts.
Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2022 Playoffs
1-3, 3.99 GAA, .884 Save %
Game 2 – 7
11-3, 1.90 GAA, .939 Save %
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 16, 2022
We all like unpredictability in sports and the one big intrigue about the Colorado-Tampa final matchup is nobody with any certainty can forecast who will win the series.
Last year it was a foregone conclusion that the Lightning would beat the Montreal Canadiens in the Final, it was just a matter of how many games.
On paper, this is the best Stanley Cup in recent memory because a strong case can be made for either team winning.
This was not the case in this year’s semi-finals where Colorado and Tampa were expected to win over Edmonton and the Rangers respectively, and they did which set up this dream matchup.
My guess is that most Prince George hockey fans want to see Tampa put up a three-peat, if for no other reason that a possibility would exist that the Stanley Cup could come to the city this summer.
PG’s Jon Cooper, the Tampa coach, who is arguably the best at what he does in the NHL, has not been able to bring Lord Stanley’s Mug to his hometown in either of the last two years largely because of the pandemic.
If the Avalanche can dethrone the Lightning, Jared Bednar will swap places with Jon Cooper, who’s aiming to lead Tampa Bay to a third consecutive title, something that hasn’t happened in the NHL since the 1980s. https://t.co/dvLnb0j8yD
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) June 15, 2022
The Cup was last in Prince George in 2018 when forward Brett Connolly brought it home when he was with the Washington Capitals.
Prior to that, New Jersey Devils winger Turner Stevenson brought it to P.G. in 2003.
In a feature interview with Brendan Pawliw of mypgnow.com last year, Cooper acknowledged how much more difficult it is to be the hunted rather than the hunter.
“I think it is easier being the team chasing somebody than the team being chased. That’s why a lot of people say it’s harder to stay on top than to get on top,” said Cooper.
I haven’t heard as many complaints this year as in the past about the NHL still playing past the midway mark of June.
That is likely because fans realize the delay has been due to the schedule getting altered many times throughout the season due to the pandemic.
Last year Tampa won the Cup on July 7th (beating Montreal 1-0 in Game 5).
This year if the Bolts and Avs go the distance, Game 7 will be played on June 28th.
Starting Saturday we get hockey every second day until there is a winner.
Stanley Cup Final: (All times 5 p.m. PT)
Wednesday, June 15: Tampa Bay at Colorado (Colorado won 4-3 in OT)
Saturday, June 18: Tampa Bay at Colorado
Monday, June 20: Colorado at Tampa Bay
Wednesday, June 22: Colorado at Tampa Bay
*Friday, June 24: Tampa Bay at Colorado
*Sunday, June 26: Colorado at Tampa Bay
*Tuesday, June 28: Tampa Bay at Colorado
From a competitive standpoint, I do not know if there was a worse NBA playoff season in recent memory.
No one can deny the Golden State Warriors were the best team but most of their games and that of other teams lacked drama.
The vast majority of games, including the clincher last night (103-90) over the Boston Celtics were decided by double digits.
THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS ARE NBA CHAMPIONS 🏆
Steph, Klay, Dray & Iggy win their 4th ring together 💍 pic.twitter.com/n6UvVPR4Yz
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 17, 2022
All six games in the NBA final series had a point differential of at least 10 points.
In the Golden State Western Conference championship victory over Dallas, all five games were determined by a minimum of nine points.
The lack of overtimes and dramatic finishes made the 2022 post-season seem ho-hum unless you are a super fan of the Warriors.
For the entire NBA playoff results, this year click here.
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
The NBA 2021-2022 season is finally over. The NBA 2022-2023 season starts next week?
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
Dog days of summer, Mets edition: Max Scherzer, already sidelined with an oblique strain, got bit on his pitching hand by his pooch.
*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
Mets ace Max Scherzer, already recovering from a strained oblique, was bitten on his pitching hand by his dog, Rafi. Fortunately, it was learned that Rafi is not a rabid Phillies fan.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
In Case You Missed It:
Pressure is on NASCAR’s Cole Custer, whose poor performance this season has put his contract with Stewart-Haas Racing in jeopardy. Any race could be Custard’s last stand.
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).