Avalanche power play sinking Lightning in Stanley Cup Final

The Wraparound is your look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, including the all-important television information.

• However you feel about Nazem Kadri‘s Game 4 OT goal, it ultimately counted for the Avalanche, leaving the Lightning on the brink of elimination heading into Game 5 on Friday.

• Coaches continue to lock down jobs around the NHL. Adam Gretz wonders if Peter DeBoer can lead the Stars to a quick turnaround. After turning the Oilers’ 2021-22 season around quickly, Jay Woodcroft received a contract extension. Will the Panthers look shrewd after the surprising decision to hire Paul Maurice as head coach?

Heading into the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, my feeling was that the Lightning would benefit more than the Avalanche if officials decided to stop calling penalties.

Generally, that feeling was more about style of play and tempo than actual power play execution. After all, as much firepower as the Avalanche boast, the Lightning have put together some lethal power play units over the years.

Heading into the Cup Final, that group was humming at a productive 22.6% success rate. With every goal precious (especially as the Bolts slowed the Eastern Conference Final to a halt), the chemistry of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos proved potent.

In the grand scheme of things, it was reasonable to expect the Avalanche and Lightning to draw close to even on the power play. However, through four games of the Cup Final, the Avs have generated a daunting advantage.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Through four games, the Avalanche scored six power-play goals on 13 opportunities, translating to a whopping 46.2% success rate. The Lightning received 14 power-play opportunities so far, and have only scored one PPG. Worse yet, Tampa Bay also gave up a shorthanded goal, so Colorado’s penalty kill fought them to a “draw.”

So, that’s a six-goal swing for the Avalanche, negating the Lightning managing a 10-9 advantage in even-strength goals.

Heading into Game 5 on Friday (8 p.m. ET), the Lightning may beg for a reversal of fate, although they might want to be specific against the Avalanche.

Fascinatingly, the Avalanche are probably playing a bit over their heads on the power play, yet the Lightning might be getting a few bounces at even-strength.

So, be careful what you wish for when it comes to demanding a change of luck. But it really is reasonable to say that the difference at 5-on-4 has been extreme.

[Related: Avs defying the odds with playoff goaltending]

When you work backwards from results, you’d think that the Avalanche power play was tremendous, and the Lightning’s group has been terrible. The former’s true, but the latter shows the folly of looking at small sample sizes.

Via Natural Stat Trick, the Avalanche generated 14 high-danger chances over their 17:19 power play TOI in this series in 5-on-4 situations. Three goals came from high-danger chances, five were scored at 5-on-4, and the Avalanche also converted on a 5-on-3.

As troubling as those numbers are, the Lightning have been more dangerous than their results would indicate. Natural Stat Trick puts the Lightning at 3.45 expected goals in those 5-on-4 power play situations so far during the Cup Final. Per minute, the Avalanche are still creating chances at a terrifying rate, but over a long haul, those numbers would even out.

Of course, the Lightning can only live and die by small sample sizes against the Avalanche in the Cup Final. As much as they’d like to find answers, time is running out.

Maybe they’re better off hoping that officials continue to “let them play?”

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 3-1)

Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
Game 3 – Lightning 6, Avalanche 2
Game 4 – Avalanche 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
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)

* – if necessary

More NHL News

Can Paul Maurice coach Panthers to a Stanley Cup level? ‘Too many men on the ice’ debate hangs over Kadri OT goal Hockey Canada’s funding frozen for handling of sexual assault claim

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Wraparound: Avalanche power play sinking Lightning in Stanley Cup Final originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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