Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Wednesday night at 6 p.m. local time at the Ball Arena.
That much was certain tonight as the Lightning eliminated the New York Rangers in six games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1 takes place on Wednesday, Game 2 on Saturday in Denver, then Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday in Tampa.
The Lightning, in case you forgot, are the two-time defending champions of the Stanley Cup. They have a great goalkeeper in Andre Vasilevskiy and I think that will be the biggest challenge for the Avs to win the trophy. The Avs have been fortunate to face three pretty mediocre goalies in the playoffs so far (which explains Jordan Binnington’s injury against St. Louis), but there’s nothing mediocre about Vasilevskiy.
The cup final between Avalanche and Lightning would have started on June 18 if Rangers had won tonight, but it is now the 15th injured Avs players like Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano now have three days less to heal from a broken right bone Hand.
Darcy Kuemper will likely be the starting goalie for the Avs in Game 1, but note the word “probably” not “definitely.”
The Avs are playing in their third Stanley Cup Finals since 1996. The Lightning are playing in their fifth. Tampa Bay is 3-1 in the Cup finals, the only loss the Chicago Blackhawks suffered in 2015. The Avs are in the cup final with 0:2.
All Avalanche and Lightning series games will be broadcast on ESPN. The Avs have been out since June 6 after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals. The Lightning will likely fly to Denver on Monday to begin preparations for the series.