06_18_22 stanley cup 03550.jpg

Colorado Avalanche left wing Andre Burakovsky (95) battles Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) during the first period of Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena in Denver Saturday, June 18, 2022. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

The crowds in the two bars at the venerable iconic resort in Estes Park were going “wild and crazy’’ Saturday night.

The name should be changed to the Stanley Cup Hotel.

The Avalanche are The Shining. The Lightning are dark and stormy.

Seven up, zero down. The Avs threw a perfect game at the Lightning. It was the most dominant performance in the history of the National Hockey League franchise and the second-most lopsided victory in the history of the Final.

After being torched for 11 goals in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final in Denver, Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy must have believed he was a character in Stephen King’s 1977 horror novel and the 1980 movie.

Did Vasilevskiy stay in the legendary room 217 at the Stanley Hotel and was scared out of his wits?

They are dancing in the streets 66 miles northwest of downtown Denver and everywhere else in the state. The Avs have taken a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final over the Lightning, whose dynasty is in danger. Tampa Bay has been clueless in Colorado and can’t wait to get to Florida.

However, it is well to remember that the dominant, domineering and dynamic Avalanche are undefeated on the road in the postseason.

How many g’s in jugggggernaut? The representatives of the Eastern Conference, who lost in the opening game in overtime 4-3 after surrendering three goals in the opening period, must have felt they would return with more firepower and energy at the start of the second game.

No.

The Avs scored three goals in the first period again and just kept piling on. The Lightweights should have forfeited.

It got late early. It got beautiful for the Avs and Quasimodo for the Blight-ning.

Eleven of the Avs finished with a point or more.

Darcy Kuemper threw a shutout, but he was lonely for much of the evening. He was confronted with only 16 shots on goal and really wasn’t tested. The Lightning obviously have forgotten the purpose of hockey. They had only 23 shots in the first game of the series.

Vasilevskiy has to feel like a pinata. The Avalanche have fired 68 missiles at the Conn Smythe Trophy recipient of a year ago and converted 11. The Avs showed no mercy. Neither did Jon Cooper, one of the most successful coaches in the league. He should have removed Andrei The Former Great after the second period when the score already was 5-nil.

“The Avalanche are playing at a much higher level than we are,’’ Cooper said succinctly afterward.

The Avs were a mile high. Jon Cooper hopes a transfer in scenery will have influence. The Lightning trailed 2-0 in the conference finals to the Rangers after dropping the first two games in New York, and did rally to win the series.

But the Rangers aren’t the Avalanche, who are playing at the speed at the light.

It’s too soon to call the series over, but these Avalanche are reminiscent of Avs’ teams that won Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001. Younger obviously, but youth is not being wasted in the playoffs on a roster that has won 14 of 16 games and rarely been shaken.

Consider that Andre Burakovsky had the winning overtime goal in Game 1, then responded with a goal and an assist (and a breakaway that didn’t result in a score) in the second game. Consider that Cal Makar hadn’t produced a point in five periods, yet scored twice in the third period. Consider that Valeri Nichushkin fired two missiles for goals. And everyone else contributed.

It was Ice Capades.

Coach Jared Bednar said the Avalanche amped their defense.

King spent a night at the Stanley Hotel – built by automobile manufacturer Freeland Stanley in 1909 - a night there when he lived in Boulder. The Avs have become the new Stanley Steamers.

“We’ve had 200 people here tonight, and they’ve been wild and crazy watching the Avalanche,’’ said J.C. Cantley, general manager of the restaurant-bar in the Stanley’s former carriage house. At The Whiskey Bar in the hotel, Kylee Smith, the host, said a table of five had demanded that the television be switched to the Avalanche game.

When the Avalanche do win the championship, the team and the trophy must spend a night at the Stanley Cup Hotel.

Sign Up for Pikes Peak 5

Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Load comments