Colorado Avalanche wait for the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Rangers

After defeating the Oilers, the Avalanche must wait for the Eastern Conference Finals.

After defeating the Oilers, the Avalanche must wait for the Eastern Conference Finals.
picture: Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche are waiting. And waiting for a Stanley Cup Finals opponent hasn’t treated them favorably when returning from getaways in the past. We’re ending that 35th NHL Postseason in which first-round games are played as best of seven, beginning in 1987 and every year except for the aborted 2005 season due to the league lockout. It’s the fairest way to judge fatigue mixed with unexpected recovery.

Colorado eliminated the Oilers with a sweeping victory on Monday Connor McDavid’s team out of the postseason to win the Western Conference. There are two more guaranteed games to determine the East’s winner, with Tampa Bay set to play Tuesday’s two-game series against Rangers. The streak is guaranteed to continue through June 11, but with both teams having the ice advantage at home, we’re set for a Game 7 on June 14.

It will be eight days minimum time the avalanche will wait from Artturi Lehkonen’s overtime goal to the puck drop of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, chances are it will be longer. Since the last expansion of the NHL’s playoff format, 11 days is the record between winning the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl or the Prince of Wales Trophy and starting a championship streak. That record is held by both the 2019 Bruins and the 2003 Ducks, both of whom lost in the Finals.

Of the nine NHL teams that waited more than a week from the conference championship to the Finals, only one pair also won the Stanley Cup, the Canaidens in 1993 and the Kings in 2012. That’s seven losers. Four long awaited teams that would fail in the Stanley Cup did so in Game 7. None were defeated. The only team to wait eight or more days for the Stanley Cup Finals to begin and then lose four straight days to exit the postseason was the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural 2018 season. Vegas defeated the Capitals in Game 1 of the Finals and then lost the next four in a row.

We’ve already seen a version of the extended break theory in this year’s playoffs. After beating the Panthers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Lightning had a nine-day hiatus waiting for the Rangers to outlast Carolina. New York continued to play every other day and won the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa finally got its mojo back even on the series.

The first team to secure a spot in the finals has always waited at least four days for their chance to reclaim the ice. Of the six teams that returned four Stanley Cup victories to the ice fastest, four won the trophy, with the escapees being the 1992 Blackhawks and last year’s runners-up Montreal.

Colorado has plenty of firepower and its two playoff sweeps and the Blues’ dismantling have shown that it would be foolish to overlook its Stanley Cup chances based on history. The Avalanche may also be on their way to an NHL record as they wait to start the final series of the season when Game 7 comes between them New York and Tampa performances.

The injuries to Nazem Kadri, Samuel Girard and Darcy Kuemper didn’t derail the team, who should have been considered Stanley Cup favorites from the jump. Florida was obviously flawed. The Avalanche’s greatest enemy in reaching the finals may not be an opponent. It’s too loose until the last opponent of the season is known.

Wait for the first final game

2021: Montreal Canadiens, four days

2020: Dallas Stars, five days

2019: Boston Bruins, 11 days

2018: Vegas Golden Knights, eight days

2017: Nashville Predators, seven days

2016: San Jose Sharks, five days

2015: Tampa Bay Lightning, five days

2014: New York Rangers, six days

2013: Boston Bruins, Five Days

2012: Los Angeles Kings, eight days

2011: Vancouver Canucks, eight days

2010: Chicago Blackhawks, six days

2009: Pittsburgh Penguins, four days

2008: Pittsburgh Penguins, Six Days

2007: Ottawa Senators, Nine Days

2006: Edmonton Oilers, nine days

2005: *** Lockout ***

2004: Calgary Flames, six days

2003: Anaheim Ducks, 11 days

2002: Carolina Hurricanes, seven days

2001: Colorado Avalanche, five days

2000: New Jersey Devils, four days

1999: Buffalo Sabers, eight days

1998: Washington Capitals, Five Days

1997: Philadelphia Flyers, six days

1996: Colorado Avalanche, six days

1995: Detroit Red Wings, six days

1994: Vancouver Canucks, seven days

1993: Montreal Canadiens, eight days

1992: Chicago Blackhawks, four days

1991: Minnesota North Stars, five days

1990: Boston Bruins, Six Days

1989: Calgary Flames, four days

1988: Edmonton Oilers, seven days

1987: Edmonton Oilers, four days

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