Morning Skate: Game 1 is finally here. Avalanche host Tampa Bay in a battle of heavyweights for the Stanley Cup Final

Jun 6, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

DENVER — Following an eight-day layoff, the Avalanche are set to finally begin the last chapter of the playoffs as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Colorado is 12-2 through the first three rounds and enters the final on a five-game winning streak. The Lightning, who started the playoffs with a hard-fought seven-game series victory over Toronto, enter the final on a four-game winning streak and an 8-2 record in the previous two rounds.

Safe to say, this is the matchup many had hoped for as the Avs look to dethrone the two-time defending champions.

Listen to “Stanley Cup Final Preview” on Spreaker.

Day to day

Avs coach Jared Bednar said after morning skate on Wednesday that both Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano are considered day-to-day. Neither is expected to play in Game 1.

Kadri had surgery to repair a broken thumb on his right hand and skated without a stick before the rest of the team took the ice. Cogliano suffered a similar injury, reportedly to his ring finger, and had surgery after Colorado’s four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference final.

It’s unclear if or when either forward will return.

Centers

Without Kadri, the Avs will likely have a different lineup than the one they used to start Game 4 against Edmonton. Colorado shifted winger Mikko Rantanen to center — a position he succeeded at earlier in the regular season. But as the game progressed, Rantanen found himself back on the wing with third-liner J.T. Compher being elevated to the top six.

In that scenario, the third-line center hole could be filled by Nico Sturm or by Darren Helm. But rookie Alex Newhook, a natural center, could also be an option. And Bednar said he’s comfortable with utilizing him as such if needed.

Andre Burakovsky

Forward Andre Burakovsky exited morning skate early but Bednar confirmed he will be available for Game 1. Burakovsky, like captain Gabriel Landeskog, has taken a number of maintenance days in recent weeks.

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Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

Listen to “Stanley Cup Final Preview” on Spreaker.

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