TAMPA, Fla. — Josh Manson nonetheless had his luggage half-packed from the Avalanche’s final time on the highway after they returned residence with the possibility to win the Stanley Cup.
That didn’t occur, and now he and his teammates can be confronted with Game 6 on Sunday evening in opposition to the Lightning. The recreation can be at Amalie Arena, the place Tampa Bay hoisted the Cup a year in the past to win its second straight championship.
The Avalanche, making an attempt to win their first championship as a bunch and the group’s first since 2001, know the immense problem they’ve in entrance of them in opposition to a determined opponent that has extra expertise this deep into the playoffs.
“You have to have that desperation because it’s the finals,” Manson stated Saturday in Denver earlier than flying to Florida’s Gulf Coast. “You can’t look at the amount of games that we have left. You have to be desperate every single game.”
Colorado would desperately like to keep away from a second consecutive loss, which might units up Game 7 again in Denver on Wednesday and would transfer Tampa Bay one victory away from a three-peat. And the Avalanche actually have a recipe for dealing with this case in opposition to a extra seasoned playoff opponent.
That got here within the second spherical, when the Avalanche went up 3-1 within the second spherical in opposition to rival St. Louis — the final staff to win the Cup earlier than the Lightning’s run started in 2020. Much like Friday evening, Colorado lost a one-goal recreation at residence to the Blues earlier than bouncing again to shut out the collection on the highway in St. Louis.
Manson stated the Avalanche discovered some desperation from that sequence, however the stakes are increased within the remaining, with the Stanley Cup within the constructing.
“I know how much our guys want it now: They’ve worked for it,” coach Jared Bednar stated. “There’s a certain amount of stress and anxiety that you have to try to put out of your head so you can bring your best performance.”
The Lightning know all about these psychological gymnastics, together with some new tips they’ve picked up this postseason. The convention remaining in opposition to the Rangers was the primary time they trailed a collection since getting swept within the first spherical in 2019 (the collection loss that set the course for this run) they usually had not fallen behind 3-1 till now.
Having already staved off elimination as soon as, and armed with the expertise of profitable 11 consecutive collection, coach Jon Cooper and his staff know precisely what to anticipate from either side in Game 6.
“There’s no doubt we’re better equipped in these situations because you kind of feel [like] you put yourself in the shoes of the other teams, too, and what they must be thinking, what you’re thinking when you’re in these situations and how games played out,” Cooper stated. “It’s experience. … And experience matters.”
Freshest for the Avalanche is the painful expertise of blowing the possibility to be part of the Lightning as the one groups over the previous seven years to win the Cup at residence. But earlier playoff disappointments have steeled this core group to deal with adversity, and within the rapid aftermath of their 3-2 loss in Game 5, leaders have been already placing it within the rearview mirror.
“We’ll bounce right back,” captain Gabriel Landeskog stated, pointing to the significance of getting a brief reminiscence within the playoffs. “It’s a seven-game series. It’s not supposed to be easy, and it’s not going to be.”