The Colorado Avalanche beat (the absolute shit out of) the Tampa Bay Lighting, 7-0, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. This, the internet tells me, was one of the bigger blowouts in the history of the Stanley Cup Final, as well as the most lopsided loss the Lightning have ever taken in the playoffs.
Reader, I will not lie to you: I am not a hockey knower. Were you to rank all of the two-dozen or so Defector staffers and interns and contributors in order of hockey knowledge, very likely I would appear at the bottom, or extremely near to it, depending on whether anybody else here has a hard time even knowing where the puck is at any given time in a hockey telecast. The nice thing about a total, one-sided ass-kicking in virtually any sport, though, is that it has the power to break through ignorance and impress just about anybody (including whichever sweaty idiot happened to have signed up for the Sunday blogging shift the day after Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final was just about the only thing of note on the sports calendar). With that in mind, here is a list of all seven of Game 2’s goals, graded for coolness.
17:06, 1st Period, Valeri Nichushkin, 1-0
The game’s first goal came off a nice lil’ passing sequence by the ‘Lanche Lads, Andre Burakovsky out on the side to Alex Newhook down behind the goal, back to Burakovsky, who whipped that sucker across to smack-dab in front of the goal, where Valeri Nichushkin poked his stick out and bonked it into the net too fast for me to see except on the slow-motion replay. In soccer they would call this a poacher’s goal; in basketball it would be an alley-oop. To me the sick Burakowsky pass is the real highlight: If I’d been laying dead and stiff as a board on the ice where Nichushkin’s stick happened to be (as I would be if I tried to pay professional hockey for the time it took me to type this paragraph), the puck would have ricocheted off of my pathetic frozen carcass into the net just as surely as it did off Nichushkin’s stick in the actual play from Saturday night. Grade: B
12:05, 1st Period, Josh Manson, 2-0
More of a fast-break type of deal. The action was all jammed up against the, uh, the boards (?) way down at the other end, and then all of a sudden the puck leaked out of there and the ‘Lanchers were off, buddy. Newhook to Andrew Cogliano, who was racing ahead with Josh Manson in a 2-on-1 break against a lone Lightning guy; Cogliano over to Manson, who coolly let Cogliano draw the single defender away from him; the defender fell over, and then Manson flipped the patty (?) right past a helpless Andrei Vasilevskiy in the goal. The broadcast guys were pumped because Manson is a defenseman, but he looked smooth as hell finishing this; maybe he should be an attacksman from now on. This was the second goal of the game, and it was way cooler than the first. Grade: A
6:09, 1st Period, Burakovsky, 3-0
Another transition goal. Burakovsky weaved across the middle with the puck and kinda collapsed all three Lightning defenders onto himself, then laid it off for Mikko Rantanen, who took a shot that doinked off of Vasilevskiy—but Burakovsky was right there to flash superhuman reflexes and doink it right back! Into the net! A reverse-doink! The reverse-doink was extremely slick, especially because Burakovsky had created the initial shot with the slashing lil’ drive across the middle to draw all the attention. That is all I would ever talk about for the rest of my life if I did it. After this goal all the Lightning guys looked like they wanted to barf. Grade: A+
I would like to pause here to note a point early in the second period when the puck was flying through the air and one Colorado MF just reached up and grabbed it out of the air with his glove. I feel that this is not in keeping with the spirit of hockey, which to my mind is all about slingin’ the burger around with the stick. Gotta sling the burg. Can’t grab the burg. Only the goalie can do burger grabs.
15:10, 2nd Period, Nichushkin, 4-0
This goal came out of slop. A bunch of dudes were just crashing into each other and booting the biscuit around behind the goal, and then all of a sudden it was right in front of the net and Nichushkin whacked it on in there; another poacher’s goal. It’s like I have always said about Nichushkin: The guy just knows where to be. Right as it was happening the play-by-play guy blurted out “Centering pass!” but I think he was doing salesmanship to make all of this seem more Tactical than it was. Anyway this goal was not all that cool. It was fine. Even the ‘Lanche Lads seemed kind of bored, or ever so slightly chagrined. Grade: C+
A funny thing happened after this goal where the camera cut over to the Lightning’s coach, Jon Cooper, who was looking down intently at, like, a clipboard or a play-sheet or something. This is a classic coach move in all televised sports, when their team is getting its doors blown off and the coach knows the camera very likely is pointed at them: appear to be very calmly focused on coaching and tactics, not living or dying by what is happening at the moment in the actual game, as though it is all Normal and in fact possibly even What I Expected Would Be Happening At This Point. Two million percent chance he was thinking about how nice the postgame shower would be at this moment.
3:35, 2nd Period, Darren Helm, 5-0
Tragic. The Lightning had the puck down near Colorado’s goal and seemed like they might possibly put together a meager dignity goal, but then the puck took a bad carom off the end of some Tampa guy’s stick and just like that the ‘Lanchers were flying away again. Darren Helm gathered it about equidistant between two hopelessly far apart Tampa defenders, zoomed into the gap between them, and whipped it past Vasilevskiy, who looked very tired and sad afterward. I felt terrible for him. At this point I started to feel kind of unwarmly toward the Colorado guys. Lay off, jerks! Grade: C
17:57, 3rd Period, Cale Makar, 6-0
Ugh! The Lightning were on a power play; they had the puck down by Colorado’s goal; the ‘Lanche Lads looked kind of frantic trying to fight it out of there; the Lightning looked, for a moment, like they might even get a goal out of it. No matter. The puck squirted between some hapless Tampa guy’s feet and like two seconds later Cale Makar was coasting in on Tampa’s goal and blasting the puck past Vasilevskiy. This goal gets like an F-minus for sportsmanship, but Makar was very cool on the attack, the way he skated to his left, then back to the right, then coasted out wide to make it an impossible situation for the lone retreating Lightning defender. The shot itself was basically identical to the one from Manson that made it 2-0.
Vasilevskiy just kind of hung his head down after this one. I wanted someone to go out there and relieve him, but I guess that is not the way of hockey, a cruel mistress. Grade: B
10:11, 3rd Period, Makar, 7-0
This was just unkind. The ‘Lanche Lads had a power play, and it looked like they had three guys for every Lightning, ah, fellow. Nathan MacKinnon skated in a circle with the puck, like Bob Cousy showing off his most sophisticated dribble move (turning); then it was a pass, another pass, another pass, another pass, and then Makar, on the opposite side from his earlier goal, whipping it into the net over the left shoulder of a frozen and despondent-looking Vasilevskiy. I don’t think the five total Lightning guys on that whole half of the rink moved so much as a combined 10 inches on this goal. Why should they have? Why should they have to? Why couldn’t the ‘Lanche be merciful? Grade: F
Fun game! The Avalanche lead the series 2-0, with the next two games in Florida. If there is any justice in hockey they will really catch it on the damn chin, and Lauren will be around to blog it.