NHL

Stanley Cup: Drubbed Lightning 'didn't see' record loss coming

By Sports Desk June 19, 2022

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was still coming to terms with a franchise record loss after the two-time defending champions were drubbed 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Colorado Avalanche.

Three days on from a close-fought Game 1 loss, the Florida outfit were soundly smashed at Ball Arena as they capitulated to leave an arduous path back to a third consecutive title.

After an overtime clash before that indicated a tight postseason battle for hockey's biggest prize, the Lightning were no match for the Avs, suffering their largest ever playoff defeat.

"Am I shocked that we lost seven-zip?" Stamkos stated. "I mean, I don't think we saw that coming.

"We have a game plan, and it's trying to neutralise their speed and their forecheck. And we've gotten away from it a little bit at times, and it cost us."

Stamkos in particular said the team owed an apology to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who suffered a torrid night as the Avs ran rampant.

"We left him out to dry tonight," he added. "He's been our backbone for years and years and years. We owe it to him to have a better game next game. By no means is this on him tonight."

This was just the fifth instance of the defending Stanley Cup champions falling 2-0 behind in a Finals series, with only the 1966 Detroit Red Wings recovering to take the title again.

Meanwhile, the 1980 New York Islanders are the sole team to have allowed 11 or more goals through two games and still won the Finals.

But with two games back home to restore parity, the Lightning are adamant that they are not out of the picture yet.

"It takes a great team to realise the mistakes that we've made," Stamkos added. "And I have full confidence in this group that we'll have a much better effort.

"Listen, people are going to be watching this game tonight and probably think the series is over. But we're a very resilient group. We were in this position last round.

"So, whether it's 1-0 or 7-0 or 10-0, it's a loss in the playoffs. We've got to man up as a team. Let's get back home in front of our fans, and let's see what we're made of."

Defenseman Victor Hedman added: "At the end of day, we lost the game, not the series."

Related items

  • Wirtz should follow Alonso's lead and stay with Leverkusen, says Ramelow Wirtz should follow Alonso's lead and stay with Leverkusen, says Ramelow

    Florian Wirtz should follow Xabi Alonso's lead and reject interest from Europe's top clubs to stay at Bayer Leverkusen beyond this season, says former Germany international Carsten Ramelow.

    Wirtz has been one of the standout performers in a remarkable campaign for Leverkusen, who are just one win away from clinching their first Bundesliga title.

    The attacking midfielder has 18 goal involvements in 28 league outings this term (eight goals, 10 assists), with his latest goal coming from the penalty spot in Saturday's win over Union Berlin.  

    Among all Bundesliga players, Wirtz ranks third for successful dribbles (77), fifth for chances created (70) and fourth for expected assists (9.23 xA) this season.

    His performances have won him plenty of admirers, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid among those credited with an interest in the 20-year-old.

    However, after seeing head coach Alonso reaffirm his commitment to Leverkusen, Ramelow, who made over 400 appearances for Die Werkself between 1995 and 2008, thinks Wirtz should follow suit. 

    "For Leverkusen, he is indispensable," the 2002 World Cup finalist told Stats Perform. "The same goes for the national team, where he has found a good role. 

    "There's a lot of speculation. When you're in great form, the big teams come knocking. Leverkusen hope he will continue with them for a while and move on after that. 

    "In my opinion, it would be good for his development to stay in Leverkusen, because you can see if young players leave too early, it is not always good."

    With Alonso refusing to jump ship, Ramelow feels Leverkusen still have plenty to offer Wirtz, saying: "To show consistent performances, you have to be where you feel happy, and I think Leverkusen is a good place currently. 

    "They are so consistent. They have a lot of confidence and also a pinch of luck in the final moments to win games. That's really good. You have to look at the collective, the coach and his staff.

    "But of course, Wirtz is a very young player who showed his talent many times over the last few years. He has made really good development and has lots more to come.

    "Why not continue on that path for another one, two, maybe even three years and make the next step afterwards? This is what I think is the right way, but we will see what decision Wirtz takes."

    Remarkably, Leverkusen are yet to lose a game in any competition this season. They have just six further games to navigate in the Bundesliga, while they will face second tier Kaiserslautern in May's DFB-Pokal final and are among the favourites to win the Europa League.

     As Leverkusen look to banish the ghosts of 2001-02 – when they finished as runners up in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League – Ramelow says all the credit lies with Alonso.

    "When he arrived in Leverkusen, he was facing a few problems, which is normal. I think you have to give managers some time in this day and age," Ramelow said.

    "That is what they did with him. He explained his philosophy and ideas very well to the team. The boys execute that really well. 

    "The whole package is in perfect harmony. The season they have played is phenomenal. Their streak is sensational and it looks like they will do this until the end. 

    "Every team has a bit of a lapse every season, but Leverkusen have been exceptional across all competitions. They can still win everything. Things are looking really good."

  • Edwards credits Finch approach after Timberwolves guard enjoys career night Edwards credits Finch approach after Timberwolves guard enjoys career night

    Anthony Edwards praised coach Chris Finch's man-management skills after dropping 51 points to help the Minnesota Timberwolves to a stirring comeback win against the Washington Wizards.

    The Wizards made a blistering start to Tuesday's game at Target Center and found themselves 21 points up in the first quarter. 

    That advantage was cut to 44-27 by the end of the quarter, yet it still represented Washington's franchise record for most points in a single quarter. 

    However, a dominant second-half showing saw Minnesota turn the game around, with Edwards' 3 pointer giving them their first lead with just over two minutes of the third quarter remaining.

    His final tally surpassed his previous best, a 49-point performance against the San Antonio Spurs in April 2022, also putting him joint-fifth among all displays from Timberwolves players.

    The victory kept Minnesota above the Denver Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference, and they hold the tiebreaker ahead of the teams' huge clash at Ball Arena on Wednesday.

    Speaking after the game, Edwards revealed the details of a meeting he held with Finch earlier in the week, saying: "He put me in the office two or three days ago and said, 'look, we've got this Washington game, and we need to win it'.

    "'We need to come ready to play, you can't treat it like any other game'. I don't even need to talk about how big it is. Everybody knows."

    The Timberwolves improved to 12-5 without All-Star forward Karl-Anthony Towns, who is nearing a return after around a month on the sidelines with a knee injury.

    Finch credited his players for producing another real team performance in his absence, saying: "We needed all of them, for sure.

    "The best thing about it for me was they came in the flow. Anthony kept making the right play down the stretch for the most part. He was really finding people. 

    "Guys were knocking down shots, too. He was aggressive getting to the hoop. I thought he turned the game around, along with Nickeil [Alexander-Walker], in getting to the basket."

    Minnesota have already clinched a top-three seed and a victory in Denver on Wednesday would leave them needing just one further win to secure top spot in the West. 

  • Counter kings Real Madrid can hurt Man City, says Kiki Musampa Counter kings Real Madrid can hurt Man City, says Kiki Musampa

    Real Madrid enter their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester City as favourites due to their counterattacking prowess, believes former City loanee Kiki Musampa.

    City became European champions for the first time last season as they won the treble, and they are seen by many as strong favourites to retain their crown this campaign.

    However, Pep Guardiola's men have been handed a tough draw in the last eight, facing 14-time winners Madrid with a semi-final tie against Arsenal or Bayern Munich on the line.

    It will be the third successive season in which City and Madrid have faced off in the Champions League's knockout stages following semi-final ties in 2021-22 and 2022-23, with the Santiago Bernabeu playing host to the first leg on Tuesday.

    While Madrid have only won one of their last six Champions League matches against City (one draw, four defeats), Musampa – who spent the 2005-06 season on loan at the Etihad from Atletico Madrid – does not feel Los Blancos can ever be described as underdogs.

    Musampa, an ambassador for ANF Sports, said: "I'm very excited. It's a very complicated and difficult game because Madrid are always Madrid. 

    "I have experienced them in Spain and no matter how their form is or what type of players they have, they will always be the favourites and you need to be at your best, all of you, to beat Madrid in these games."

    City's average possession share of 71.26 per cent is comfortably the highest in the Champions League proper this season, with Madrid ranking sixth by that metric with 57.37 per cent. 

    However, Madrid's 31 direct attacks are at least 11 more than any other team has recorded in this edition of the competition (Bayern have 20), and Musampa feels their dynamism may give them the edge.

    "One team will want to play, that's City, and Madrid are comfortable with dropping back and trying to counterattack," he said. 

    "So, it's interesting from a tactical point of view. What will City do? We have seen a lot of times that they are vulnerable when the opponent is counterattacking them. 

    "Nowadays, with Liverpool, I think Madrid are one of the best counterattacking teams. So, I think in the end it's going to be a very difficult game for City, but I hope they go through."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.