DENVER | Julien BriseBois spoke of an appetite still as great for victory, even after two Stanley Cup conquests in 2020 and 2021. The general manager of the Lightning had done his research during the summer to know the physical and psychological stakes in order to to maintain his group at the top over a long period.
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We go back a few days to come back to a quote from BriseBois during the media day before the opening of this final at the Ball Arena in Denver. On the eve of this sixth game against the Avalanche, this statement resonates even stronger.
“The challenge, based on offseason research, was more psychological than physical. You don’t have to hide it. First, the human being can do a lot at the physical level. More than you might think. Second, NHL players are elite athletes. We are talking about the elite of the elite. It’s amazing what they can do to their bodies. »
“It’s more at the psychological level that it becomes difficult, continued the DG of the Lightning. I’ve talked to people in different organizations who have won two titles, not necessarily three. What kept coming up was that players were starving for year three. I never felt that with our team. In the meetings I had with my players, they always said that we remained on mission. »
The mission for the Lightning is still very real. And on a psychological level, this team has no equal in terms of resilience and courage.
“This team won’t give up and that’s what amazes me,” Jon Cooper said in a hangar at a Denver private airport just before the Lightning returned to Tampa. We received blows, we fell to the mat, but we always get up. »
“When I think about the courage of this team, I don’t necessarily see games in my head,” he continued. I look more at injuries, blocked shots and our camaraderie. It’s like gnats. You know they can turn near you and you tell yourself that they will eventually leave. We already won. We have already done that. We could choose to leave. In my opinion, that’s why teams don’t often win two years in a row. It’s easy to leave. But our guys won’t. It’s quite wonderful. »
A matter of DNA
The Lightning avoided elimination for the third time in the playoffs by winning 3-2 in Game 5 against the Avalanche. Patrick Maroon had summed up this meeting well by saying that his team had the mentality of a warrior, always ready to fight for its survival.
Photo archives, AFP
In the first round of the playoffs, the Maple Leafs squandered two opportunities to send the champions on vacation. The Avalanche will now have to beware of a difficult beast to tame.
“At this time of year, there are so many sacrifices to be made to achieve success,” defender Ryan McDonagh said. You have to learn to endure the pain and you still have to sacrifice your body by blocking other shots and accepting other hits. This warrior mentality has been installed in our group for a long time. And that’s one of the reasons for our triumphs over the past two years. We want to do it again this year. It’s part of our DNA and it must remain our DNA. »
For this sixth game, the Lightning will regain home ice advantage at Amalie Arena. Since the start of the playoffs, Steven Stamkos’ band has a record of eight wins and two losses at home. But conversely, the Avalanche also have a very good record away from Colorado with eight wins and only one loss.