June 16 — Fan Favorites & First Game Jitters

Yesterday’s NHL Score

Last Night’s News 📰

STATE OF THE LEAGUE: Before puck drop in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman delivered his state of the league address. Bettman announced an excess of $5.2 billion in revenue this season and that the 2022-23 season will begin on Oct. 11 following two regular-season games in the Czech Republic between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.

NOT SO FAST: Reports of a deal between the Calgary Flames and Johnny Gaudreau might be a little premature, according to agent Lewis Gross. Gross stated that “there is no truth” to reports that the Flames star and pending free agent had agreed to a long-term contract with the organization.

MEMORIAL CUP SET: Yesterday, the Hamilton Bulldogs dominated the Windsor Spitfires 6-1 in Game 7 of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) championship to become the final team to punch its ticket to the 2022 Memorial Cup. Hamilton joins host Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), the Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL champions), and the Western Hockey League (WHL) champion Edmonton Oil Kings, with games starting on Monday.

ANDRÉ-MATIC: The Colorado Avalanche bested the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final last night, with André Burakovsky providing the game-winning goal 1:23 into overtime, securing the win in front of Colorado’s home crowd. Game 2 takes place at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday in Denver.

Top Shelf Thursday — Top Difference Makers

Game 1 is in the books, and the Colorado Avalanche have a 1-0 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning after a thrilling overtime victory. There are many stars in the series, including Nathan MacKinnon and Brayden Point. After last night’s game, we decided to look at other players who could become difference makers in the Stanley Cup Final.

Valeri Nichushkin

The 27-year-old winger had an excellent performance in Game 1, scoring the Avalanche’s second goal and assisting on André Burakovsky’s game-winning goal in overtime. Nichushkin, the former 10th-overall pick, is coming off the best season of his career with 52 points in 62 games. Last night he played on the top line alongside MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, playing 19:04. At 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, he is a problematic forward to defend and can potentially be too much for the Lightning defensemen. 

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Everyone knows the spotlight will be on Andrei Vasilevskiy in Game 2 after his less-than-stellar performance last night at Ball Arena. He allowed three goals in the first period, including the first five-hole goal he allowed this postseason. By the game’s conclusion, he made 34 saves on 38 shots with a save percentage of .895. We all know the former Conn Smythe winner will bounce back, but if he has another performance like Game 1, this series could be over sooner than anyone expected. 

Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos is back, folks! Tampa’s captain is coming off a regular season where he put up 106 points—a career-best for the 32-year-old. This postseason, he has 15 points in 18 games and seems to be doing everything right as he finds himself battling for his third consecutive Cup. Stamkos has had big moments this postseason, including scoring both goals in Game 6 against the New York Rangers to secure his team’s ticket to the Final. Keep your eye out for the Ontario native because he is in a position to be a difference-maker in this series. 

Final First Impressions

The 2022 Stanley Cup Final kicked off last night, with the Colorado Avalanche winning Game 1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on an André Burakovsky goal in overtime. While advantageous to start on the right foot, how beneficial has it been in recent history? Here is a look at which team won Game 1 in the last five Finals and how that series turned out.


Steven Stamkos and the Lightning took Game 1 of the 2021 Cup Final, winning the series in 5 games. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last year Tampa came out firing against the Montreal Canadiens, routing them 5-1 at Amalie Arena to start the series. The Lightning also took the second game, gaining a 2-0 lead before heading north of the border. Tampa pushed the Habs to the brink with a Game 3 win, and although the Canadiens staved off elimination with an overtime win in Montreal, the Lightning ended the series at home, winning Game 5 via a 1-0 shutout.


The Dallas Stars took Game 1 in the Edmonton bubble (albeit in front of no crowd due to the pandemic), beating the Lighting 4-1. However, the Bolts bounced back to win the next three games. After losing Game 4 in overtime, the Stars prevailed in double overtime, but similar to what would happen a year later, Tampa Bay shut out its opponent to win the Cup.


Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues lost Game 1 of the 2019 Final to Boston, but won the series, prevailing in 7 games (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The host Boston Bruins prevailed in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, winning 4-2 before dropping the next game in overtime, then routing the Blues in the first game at Enterprise Center. St. Louis knotted the series up with a Game 4 victory, then won again to take a 3-2 series lead on the road. Boston blew out St. Louis to force a Game 7 at TD Garden, but the Blues dominated Boston 4-1 to win it all.


The expansion Golden Knights won Game 1 of the 2018 Final, but Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals won the series in 5 games. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Vegas hosted and won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, beating the Washington Capitals 6-4. The Golden Knights couldn’t quite topple Washington in Game 2, and the Capitals took both home games with relative ease. Back in Vegas and facing elimination, the Knights had a lead heading into the third period of Game 5 but ended up losing 4-3 to the Capitals.


Pittsburgh won Game 1 at home, beating the Nashville Predators 5-3, while also taking Game 2 by a multi-goal margin. However, the Predators blew out the Penguins in the first two games in Nashville to even the series. In Pittsburgh, the Pens bounced back with a Game 5 rout and followed that up with a 2-0 win in Nashville to finish off the Predators.

You Deserve It!

The last time the Colorado Avalanche won it all, then-captain and current GM Joe Sakic famously handed the Stanley Cup off to Ray Bourque after finally becoming a champion in the 22nd and final season of his legendary career. Bourque remains the foundational example of a player who—independent of team affiliations—all hockey fans were happy to see reign supreme.

While maybe not the same as Bourque, this year—as with every year—brings another group of players who fans would be happy to see lift hockey’s holy grail. Here are the 2022 Stanley Cup Final participants we’d most like to take a victory lap with the best trophy in sports:

Erik Johnson & Gabriel Landeskog – COL

It might be a cop-out, but the Avalanche’s longest-tenured player and its captain are equally deserving. Erik Johnson, the first overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and Gabriel Landeskog, the second overall of the 2011 Draft, have played nearly 1,400 collective games for the Avs, and this would be a first Cup for each veteran. Landeskog kicked things off with the first goal of the Stanley Cup Final last night.

Corey Perry – TBL

Corey Perry, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

Marián Hossa once switched teams, only to see his future team win before he arrived and his former hoist the Cup after he left, all while finishing runner-up each year. Few can understand that pain, but Corey Perry might come close. Perry was with the Stars when they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and with the Montreal Canadiens when they lost to Tampa last year. After going the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ route,” imagine if Perry lost in the Cup Final for a third straight year as a member of the Lightning? Poor guy.

Jack Johnson – COL

Jack Johnson, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As is true of so much of society, many NHL players are going through things we do not know. On the other hand, Jack Johnson’s harrowing struggles have been as unique as they’ve been public. The little-used blueliner filed for bankruptcy in 2014 due to his mother mismanaging and abusing his finances. A Stanley Cup won’t solve his money woes, but it would still be a nice win for Johnson to get.

Alex Killorn – TBL

No outpouring of sympathy is forthcoming for Alex Killorn, who’s earned two rings as part of the Lightning’s previous two Cup wins. Even still, Killorn would surely love to wash out the taste of last year’s disappointment, when a broken leg kept him from representing Tampa against his hometown Habs, robbing him of what certainly would have been a career high point.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Stanley Cup Final Schedule