It is rare for the top two teams of the National League to meet in the grand finale and that is what we have planned starting tomorrow. We are blessed and should see a great Stanley Cup series.
Personally, my heart is with the Colorado Avalanche, one of my former teams and especially since I played with their general manager, Joe Sakic. I also wrote to him to congratulate him and wish him good luck. I will definitely go see a game or two in Tampa.
I admire Sakic’s work and wish him victory, but my head tells me that the Lightning will win the third consecutive Stanley Cup. This is a feat once deemed impossible in modern hockey due to the salary cap and the fact that the NHL now consists of 32 teams.
Templates for Canadian
It is also a tribute to the work of Julien BriseBois, the Lightning GM, as well as his predecessor, Steve Yzerman, and driving veterans and coach Jon Cooper. Lightning could win three consecutive Cups and possibly even four, as the team will still be very competitive next season.
In my opinion, Lightning and Avalanche are the model teams par excellence and the Canadiens should draw inspiration from them. The good news in Montreal is that the new vice president of hockey, Jeff Gorton, was the architect of the massive rebuilding of the New York Rangers announced in a letter to fans in February 2018.
In just four seasons
Four years later, Rangers were runners-up in the Eastern Conference and are built to be successful in multiple campaigns with a good youth team and excellent goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin. He has nothing to envy to his predecessor, Henrik Lundqvist, one of the best of his generation and whom I consider the equivalent of Carey Price.
The progress made by Avalanche and Rangers, in particular, is encouraging for the CH. We see that with the right direction, we can progress rapidly.
Rangers finished the 2017-18 season last in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points. Avalanche narrowly qualified for the playoffs with 95 points, one more than the St. Louis Blues, before losing in the first round to the Nashville Predators.
Sakic did a great job. Particularly patient in the case of Matt Duchene, which allowed him to acquire an excellent young defender in Samuel Girard, unfortunately currently injured. He hired an unknown but competent coach in Jared Bednar. He hasn’t overpaid his former goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer and is folded back on an effective Darcy Kuemper.
Kuemper is not Andrei Vasilevskiy, but if he is healthy for the final he should give his excellent team a chance, otherwise the mission for the cup will go to auxiliary Pavel Francouz.
The experience of the Lightning and the superiority of their goalkeeper tip the scales on the side of Tampa. In short, my heart is with the avalanche, but my head with the lightning.
Sakic versus Bergevin
To return to the Canadian there are encouraging signs with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield in particular, but mistakes must be avoided such as deploying a Jesperi Kotkaniemi rather than a Brady Tkachuk or even exchanging a Mikhail Sergachev against a Jonathan Drouin.
It’s the difference between a Joe Sakic and a Marc Bergevin, kind of like the difference between a 50-goal scorer and a 20-goal scorer. Yet the two had the same opportunity to build an NHL powerhouse.
Interview by Gilles Moffet
Rangers not ready yet
Rangers’ inexperience played a trick on them in the Eastern Final. You should never take anything for granted against an experienced team like Tampa Bay. However, Gerard Gallant’s troops led the series 2-0 and with a score of 2-0 in the second period in the third game. Lightning never panicked and came from behind to win four games in a row. Igor Shesterkin — should have parried the first goal, a disappointing and half missed shot by Nikita Kucherov. Ondrej Palat scored the winning goal (3-2) in the last minute of play, marking the turning point of the series. In general, I liked Alexis Lafrenière’s play during the playoffs, but when the Lightning kicked off he was overwhelmed like all his teammates. It’s still a big step in his career.
Vasilevskiy, a great of a great
We must realize this Andrei Vasilevsky he is a goalkeeper of the caliber of Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. He wasn’t always perfect during the series, but in the important moments he was able to close the door. I can’t wait to see him against the fearsome Colorado attack.
Evander Kane’s future
Can’t wait to see what happens to the Oilers forward Evandro Kane. He had nothing but good words for his teammates, the Edmonton organization and the fans. He redeemed himself for his off-ice mistakes and claimed general manager Ken Holland. We all want perfect players and are a little cautious in the NHL. We should take inspiration from the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball and not hesitate to hire rowdy players like Kane as long as they perform. Talent remains talent.
Bruce Cassidy’s firing from the Boston Bruins really surprised me. I think he’s been able to get the best out of his team than him, but it’s an indicator that this team has reached a crossroads.