Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final is tonight between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning. Will Jon Cooper’s charges successfully complete a three-peat or will Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and co. capture this group’s first championship?
It’s a series that’s filled with star power and has the potential for some high-scoring games. Let’s take a look at what to watch for ahead of Game 1 tonight from Ball Arena in Denver.
What to watch for in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final
• Game 1 returns and absences: Brayden Point is back for the Lightining. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said the forward, who has not played since Game 7 of the First Round, is “a go” for Game 1. Point has skated daily for the past week and took part in a full practice on Tuesday, working on the team’s No. 1 power play unit.
“Anytime you’re coming back, you can’t replicate the timing and whatnot of playoff hockey in a practice,” Point said Tuesday. “It just doesn’t happen. It’ll be an adjustment for sure. But it’s the playoffs. You gotta do everything you can to be a positive addition to your team.”
Brandon Hagel, who did not skate Tuesday but was on the ice today, is a game-time decision, according to Cooper.
For the Avalanche, head coach Jared Bednar said this morning that both Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano are “day-to-day” and will not take part in the opening game of the series. Both are recovering from hand surgeries.
• Who starts in goal for Colorado?: Bednar did not reveal his Game 1 starter on Wednesday but all signs are pointing to Darcy Kuemper getting the nod. Kuemper said Tuesday he is 100% healthy but he has not played since Game 1 of the Western Conference Final due to an upper-body injury. Pavel Francouz finished out the series against the Edmonton Oilers with Kuemper backing him up for Game 4.
[Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]
• History on side of Game 1 winner: Over 82 best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals, the team that has won the opening game of the series has gone on to win 62 out 82 times. Home teams winning Game 1 have a 49-10 record while road teams who went up 1-0 in the series are 13-10.
• Experience a factor?: The Lightning have been here before, we know that. The Avalanche? Well, the franchise has not played for a Cup since they won in 2001 against the New Jersey Devils. Only two Colorado players have won Cups — Andre Burakovsky and Darren Helm. Experience or no experience Bednar will have his players ready.
“We are prepared, ready to go play our game,” he said. “They may have more experience, but we are here to prove that we are the best team in the league.”
• No edge with rest: According to the NHL, teams with more than week off heading into the Stanley Cup Final is 4-5 in Game 1 and 4-4 in full series. The Avalanche have had eight days off since eliminating the Oilers in the Western Conference Final. They will attempt to become the first team since the 1984 Oilers to win the Cup after eight or more days off leading into the Cup Final.
COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Game 1 – June 15: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – June 18: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – June 20: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – June 22: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – June 24: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 6 – June 26: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 7 – June 28: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.