June 27 — 2022 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche

Yesterday’s NHL Score

Editor’s Note

With the Stanley Cup being awarded to the Colorado Avalanche last night, the 2021-22 NHL season is officially over. While we will still provide offseason coverage with the NHL Draft (July 7-8), free agency (July 13), and beyond, the Morning Skate is scaling back to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday delivery. We will return to Monday-Friday once the 2022-23 NHL season begins.

Last Night’s News 📰

FARABEE OUT FOR THREE: Philadelphia Flyers forward Joel Farabee underwent disk replacement surgery on Friday and will be out three to four months while recovering. It was the same surgery that Vegas Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel and Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson had earlier this season.

TROTZ THIS YEAR: Barry Trotz will not be behind a bench this upcoming season after turning down the Winnipeg Jets head coaching job and telling NHL.com that he wants to divert his time to personal issues. Trotz, 59, did not rule out a future return to coaching and currently sits in third place all-time in wins (914) behind Scotty Bowman (1,244) and Joel Quenneville (969).

HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLVES: The Chicago Wolves are Calder Cup champions after defeating the Springfield Thunderbirds in Game 5 to cap off a season after leading the league with 110 regular season points. Chicago, the American Hockey League affiliate for the Carolina Hurricanes, won its first Calder Cup since 2007-08 and the first awarded in the past three seasons.

AVALANCHE ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN: Colorado won Game 6 Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, coming from behind to win 2-1 and claim the third Stanley Cup title in Avalanche franchise history—and first since 2001. It also ended the Lightning’s streak of consecutive playoff series wins (11) and Cup titles (two).

MAKAR IT OFF THE LIST: Less than a week after edging out Roman Josi to win his first Norris Trophy, Cale Makar became a Stanley Cup champion and was named playoff MVP, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. Makar joins Bobby Orr (1970, 1972) and Nicklas Lidström (2002) as the only defensemen to win the Norris and Conn Smythe in the same year.

Calder Cup Recap

The Stanley Cup Final ended Sunday night when the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 to win the series and capture their third Stanley Cup title in franchise history. One night before, the Calder Cup Final, which determines the American Hockey League (AHL) champion, concluded when the Chicago Wolves (affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes) defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) to win the series in five games. Here is a brief recap of the Wolves’ 2022 Calder Cup title.

Path to the Final

Led by 28-year-old center Andrew Poturalski, who paced the league in points with 101 (28 goals, 73 assists), the Wolves went 50-16-5-5 during the 2021-22 regular season, giving them 110 points, most in the entire AHL. That league-best record earned the Wolves a bye to the second round, where they made quick work of the Rockford Ice Hogs, sweeping them in the best-of-five series.

Stefan Noesen and the Chicago Wolves are the 2022 AHL Calder Cup champs (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Chicago then beat the Milwaukee Admirals three games to one in the Central Division Final. In those three victories, the Wolves outscored Milwaukee by a combined 19-5. In the Western Conference Final, which shifted to a best-of-seven series, the Wolves won the first three games against the Stockton Heat, but the Heat staved off elimination in two straight contests to force a Game 6. Chicago was finally able to take care of Stockton with a 3-0 shutout.

Calder Cup Final

The Thunderbirds, who finished the regular season with 95 points (tied for the third-most in the AHL), came back from down 3-1 to win Game 1 of the Final 5-4 in overtime against the host Wolves. However, Chicago bounced back and dominated the remainder of the series, winning the next four games by multiple goals—including three games by four goals and two via shutouts.

Josh Leivo, Chicago Wolves (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Wolves winger Josh Leivo won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The 29-year-old led all players with 29 postseason points (15 goals, 14 assists). Chicago’s goaltending tandem of Alex Lyon (9-3 with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 12 playoff games) and Pyotr Kochetkov (5-1 with a 1.65 GAA and a .950 SV% in six games) also excelled, helping lead the Wolves to their first Calder Cup title since 2008.

Team Spotlight – Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche are your 2022 Stanley Cup champions! Colorado swept in Nashville, clinched in St. Louis, advanced in Edmonton, and lifted the Stanley Cup in Tampa. Game 6 was intense until the final buzzer, with the Avs narrowly beating the Lightning 2-1 as Artturi Lehkonen, the trade deadline acquisition, notched the game-winning goal. Here are some of the best quotes from last night out of Amalie Arena. 

We need to start with probably the best quote of the night from the Avalanche’s captain when he was asked, “what will other teams take from the Avalanche?” “Find a Cale Makar somewhere.”Gabriel Landeskog

“For everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs, kiss my ass.” – Nazem Kadri

“I’ve been the drunkest guy at two of his [Sidney Crosby’s Cup parties], so he better be drunk at mine.” – Nathan MacKinnon

“You grow up, you see that thing [the Cup] as a kid, and you have pictures of it on your wall. I mean, all I think about is everybody who got me here. It’s just—it’s surreal.” – Cale Makar 

“I touched it as a kid—it’s not a jinx.” – Erik Johnson

“It’s a great group—a close group—and they really competed and battled for each other all year. I’m just so excited for all those players.” – Avalanche GM Joe Sakic

“The Colorado Avalanche are a class act and an exceptional hockey team. They bettered us. We have no bones to pick, never ever sit here and say, ‘Oh, we should have beat that team'” – Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

What Went Wrong

Long live the Tampa Bay Lightning! With the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup triumph last night, the Lightning’s attempts for a three-peat officially came up short. Tampa survived an intense seven-game first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and an 0-2 hole against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. However, the loaded Avs proved too much to overcome in the Cup Final.

It’s been an incredible ride for the Lightning, who deserve to hold their heads high, but because we’ve been doing it up to this point, we have to ask: what went wrong?

Empty Tank?

After much resilience from the Bolts throughout the postseason, it’s fair to wonder if Tampa just ran out of gas by the end. And really, who could blame them? Back to the start of its Cup run less than two years ago, Tampa Bay has played in a whopping 63 playoff games (66 counting the round-robin in 2020).

Not Quite Enough Depth

With no disrespect intended toward Ross Colton, Brandon Hagel, and Nick Paul (who combined for just four points in the Final), this might have finally been the series where the Lightning realized how much they missed Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Yanni Gourde. Colorado got significant production from their depth forwards, namely Valeri Nichushkin, Andrew Cogliano, and, when he was healthy, André Burakovsky. Although, the Avs may soon discover the challenge of keeping a Cup winner together, with all three headed for free agency.

Battle of No. 1 Defensemen

With Victor Hedman in tow, the Lightning were unaccustomed to having the top d-man play for the other team, but that was precisely the case as they came up against Conn Smythe winner Cale Makar. Though he was held pointless in Game 6, Makar capped off a dominant postseason with three goals and four assists in the series and finished with a historic 29 points in the playoffs. 

They Had Corey Perry

Okay, I really shouldn’t rub salt in the wound. But it’s gotta be a curse at this point, right??

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers