An INCREDIBLE series to end one of the best playoffs in recent memory. ESPN/TNT/NHL couldn't have scripted it any better. The Colorado Avalanche are the Stanley Cup Champions and nobody deserves it more. It feels like this team has been knocking on the door for a few years now and this year they took a battering ram to that door.
You think of where this team came from with Joe Sakic running things. He traded a star in Matt Duchene and got a haul that eventually turned into Makar. He had the #1 overall pick and had the audacity to take the best player, Nate MacKinnon, over Seth Jones who was a consensus #1 for years leading up to that pick and was from Colorado. Then this year Sakic went out and added the types of players you need in the playoffs. He got a goalie good enough, he got Josh Manson, he added Toews and Kadri. We had the Wings-Avs rivalry show on espn today and now the unquestioned two best GMs in the league are Sakic and Yzerman.
Nate MacKinnon is the type of guy you KNOW was going to win Cup. The tenacity he has shown in the playoffs the past several years elevated him and in everyone's eyes. He does everything for that team. Goals, forechecking, backchecking, hitting, and willing to throw his body in front of any puck heading towards the net. He is a PERFECT hockey player. The perfect face of a franchise type guy. A personality cut from the cloth of Crosby and MJ and Tiger and those types of win-above-everything champion. Give him all the hardware. He's amazing.
Makar had a true coming out party on a national stage. There has never been a more electric defenseman in my lifetime. He's a dominant force in this league. Nobody has ever played the game like him at that position. If you ever wondered what it'd be like if McDavid was a dman...you don't have to. He puts asses in seats. This whole team is great for the league and Makar's ascension to being a top Dman in the game was what took this Colorado team to the next level.
Can not say enough about the Lightning. They are absolute NAILS. Nobody wins three Cups in a row. Hasn't happened since the Islanders in the early 80s. The fact that they got this close speaks to what they are. Hedman, Stamkos, and Vasilevskiy are first ballot hall of famers. I personally kept trying to write them off because...I don't know why. I am sick of them I guess. I will never do that again. They have been a contender for over a decade now. They went to game 7 of the ECF in 2011 and have never really dropped off. They're a character team that just knows how to get it done when it matters. They're just never out of it and if Kucherov buries that one late in the 3rd we are probably all hammering the Lightning in Game 7. You could tell they were out of gas in the 3rd period, but they're such warriors that they were never out of the game.
Saddest day of the year because we are far from the next hockey game, but this was exactly how you draw it up. Two INCREDIBLE teams that want to play a fast, entertaining style without sacrificing anything to play that way. Teams that new-age fans and John Tortorella alike can get behind. The NHL has never been this fast or this talented. I could watch these teams play forever.