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What it takes for NHL playoff contenders to win Stanley Cup

The trail to the Stanley Cup isn’t a immediately line. Sometimes it’s the route a puck takes when it banks off the publish and in — or out.

Four years in the past, Artemi Panarin clanked a shot off the publish past due in legislation that can have put Columbus up 3 video games to none within the first around towards Washington. Lars Eller scored, the Capitals received the collection and went on to boost the Stanley Cup.

Andre Burakovsky appears to be like again now and recognizes he and the Capitals were given some fortunate bounces on easy methods to their first championship in franchise historical past. Now with the Colorado Avalanche, he’s well-aware that’s only one a part of what it takes for a playoff staff to recover from the hump and win all of it.

“It’s so hard to win the Stanley Cup,” Burakovsky mentioned. “You’re going to need a little bit of luck and you’re going to need everyone in your team to be extremely dialed in and sacrificing and doing whatever it takes to win.”

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The NHL is filled with name contenders that grow to be pretenders and a number of luck tales about groups that determine it out and get the task achieved. As the playoffs start Monday night time, Burakovsky and the Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes and Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers are a few of the groups having a look to take the plunge — a problem that is a part excellent well being and nice good fortune however extra about understanding the best way to journey the curler coaster of wins and losses via 4 rounds.

“Once you commit to something, be it the defensive part of the game or whatever was holding you back and you commit to it and you break through, then it becomes easier because you know what’s there,” mentioned Barry Trotz, who coached the Captials to the Cup. “It’s almost like climbing Mount Everest. You want to do it, you think you can do it and then you actually have to do it and you get to a certain place.”

Players and coaches who’ve received the Cup or reached the general described that climb as a mixture of consistency, self belief and the right mix of goaltending and well timed scoring.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning surely had all that after they received again to again the previous two years. In 2021, they eradicated Florida within the first around, Carolina in the second one around and Trotz’s New York Islanders within the Eastern Conference ultimate.

Ken Daneyko, who received the Cup with New Jersey thrice, pointed to a penalty by way of Sam Bennett that price the Panthers final 12 months. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin mentioned particular groups had been the variation towards Tampa Bay and of their earlier playoff exits to the Boston Bruins.

Current Devils trainer Lindy Ruff is on board with that being a an important a part of successful within the playoffs.

“If your penalty killing’s strong, if you’ve taken penalties and you don’t give the other team an opportunity to take advantage of it, it’s another big area,” mentioned Ruff, who coached Buffalo to the general in 1999. “A lot of times power plays can struggle. As a team that’s looking to win, if you can keep the other team’s power play off the board, it gives you a better chance to win.”

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Five of the previous six champions have completed best 5 at the energy play or penalty kill within the playoffs. Five of six additionally had been within the best 5 in objectives towards.

Rod Brind’Amour, who captained the Hurricanes to the Cup in 2006 and coaches them now, mentioned getting sturdy goaltending and conserving guys within the lineup are a few of the keys.

“What does it take? You’ve got to be healthy when you hit playoffs,” Brind’Amour mentioned. “If your top guys are out, it’s going to be hard.”

Brind’Amour and the Hurricanes cross into the playoffs with a double whammy there: beginning goalie Frederik Andersen is injured. Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry could also be out, whilst Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau are a few of the different best avid gamers banged up.

Some Cup champions overcame accidents, just like the Blues dropping Robert Thomas in 2019 and the Lightning successful once more after Alex Killorn went out all over the 2021 ultimate.

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The Capitals misplaced middle Nicklas Backstrom to damage and winger Tom Wilson to suspension earlier than Game 6 in their second-round collection towards Pittsburgh and put the highlight on reserve avid gamers to fill in. Jay Beagle and Nathan Walker assisted on Alex Chiasson’s function in legislation, then Ovechkin assisted on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s extra time winner to get Washington previous the second one around for the primary time since 1998.

“Everybody had counted us out for dead and that’s when we might’ve played one of our best games because there was that resiliency that you’ve been punched in the nose and you’ve got to keep getting up,” Trotz mentioned. “You’re going to get punched in the nose. You’re going to have to get up a few times.”

When the Penguins fired Mike Johnston early within the 2015-16 season, Mike Sullivan took over and advised avid gamers to omit about what came about the former recreation or out of doors the rink and “just play.” Several months later, they received the primary of consecutive Cup titles that veteran defenseman Ian Cole credit to that mindset.

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“We had so much confidence,” mentioned Cole, who’s now with Carolina. “We would lose a game, go down in a series and it was something where it’s like, ‘OK, go win the next one.’ It’s just a confidence and a consistent game plan and a consistent game. I think it’s having the right mindset and knowing how to win and not getting rattled if you don’t, but being able to bounce back immediately and win the next one.”

Daneyko, now an NHL Network analyst, mentioned he and his teammates realized in 1994 that each play issues. After the Devils misplaced a lead in Game 6 towards the New York Rangers and were given knocked out in seven, they realized a lesson and received the Cup the next 12 months.

“We knew what it was going to take: You couldn’t sit back,” Daneyko mentioned. “The emotion has to be balanced, has to be in check. You have to stay even keeled but play your game.”

That taste of recreation does no longer must be the similar. Three years in the past, the Blues bruised their approach to a name and also have advanced to win with talent and scoring.

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No topic how the hockey occurs, the hot button is attending to the playoffs to have a possibility to win. Among contemporary Cup champs, Tampa Bay has made the playoffs 8 of the previous 9 years, St. Louis 10 of eleven, Washington 9 of 10 and Pittsburgh 16 in a row.

“You just have to get there as much as possible and breaks are going to happen,” Blues common supervisor Doug Armstrong mentioned. “You need things going your way. You need health, you need a couple of breaks and then just ride it as far as you can.”

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject material will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.




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