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The Colorado Avalanche are your 2022 Stanley Cup Champions

In Game 6 the Avalanche defeated the back-to-back defending champion, Tampa Bay Lightning, in a thrilling 2-1 game, to hoist the Stanley Cup for the 3rd time in franchise history. Even though at one point the Av's held a 3-1 lead in the series, it was much closer than it appeared. History remained on Colorado's side though, as teams that held a 3-1 lead in the finals were 35-1, now making it 36-1.

Tampa Bay didn't make it easy for the Avalanche, as we all expected, they are a playoff experienced team with relentless attacks. The Lightning are a team that, in my opinion, was in the discussion for the next big dynasty if they were to win 3 Stanley Cups in a row. I think we can calm that talk down a bit now. Hockey is a physically demanding sport, and with all the great young up and coming teams, it's unrealistic to think they could make it to a 4th straight final. They have the talent to do so, but that's a lot of milage on the body. Not to mention how hard it is with the salary cap to keep teams together.

Nathan Mackinnon did not have the best series performance, scoring only 1 goal on 28 shots heading into game 6. But when the Avalanche needed him most, their former number 1 overall draft pick provided for them. If they were to put away the two-time champs, they needed Mackinnon to wake up and after scoring a goal and an assist, its exactly what the Av's needed to finish the job. Mackinnon, who was drafted 1st overall in the 2013 NHL draft, has not had an easy career. he has put up amazing performances individually, but the team overall has had little to no success up until recently. Dubbing an 18-year-old number 1 overall draft pick a "franchise savior" is a lot of expectation and pressure to put on a young man, and it seemed something started to wear on him after last year's second round exit against the Vegas Golden Knights. A disgruntled Mackinnon said in the press conference after that loss "I'm going into my 9th year next year and haven't won shit" well now he can say in his 9th year he is a Stanley Cup champion.

Other than Mackinnon, there were a couple other players who suffered even longer than Mackinnon has in terms of the Avalanche's lack of success up until now. Gabriel Landeskog, who was made the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years and 286 days, was drafted in 2011 2nd overall. Another one of the Avalanche's longest tenured players is Eric Johnson, a 14-year veteran that has spent some dark days in hockey purgatory, he was finally able to lift that historic trophy, and was the first person to be given it after their captain Gabriel Landeskog received it. With Johnson, other veterans like Jack Johnson and Andrew Cogliano were also long-time players to never win, and in one of the greatest traditions in all of sports, the Stanley Cup was passed to those men first.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the outstanding performance of Cale Makar, a young superstar defenseman that holds the franchise record for points in a post season, as defensemen mind you. He is going to need to clear some space in his house with the amount of trophies this man won this year. Makar won this year's Norris trophy, which is awarded to the season's best defensemen, and he also won the Con Smythe, which is awarded to the player who performed the best throughout the whole playoffs. He didn't just win the Con Smythe either, he won the award by unanimous decision. Makar is also the 3rd defensemen age 23 or younger to ever win the Con Smythe. He is the 3rd player in NHL history to win the Norris trophy, Con Smythe, and Stanley Cup all in one season. He is in elite company, joining NHL Hall Of Fame players Bobby Orr and Nicklas Lidstrom.

With the NHL season officially in its conclusion, we now look towards a 2022-23 season that is sure to be a great one. The giant has been slayed, it's time for those younger teams to make their marks and become the next great NHL franchise.

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