Is 2022 Avalanche better than 2001 Stanley Cup champions?
Is this Avs team better than the 2001 Stanley Cup champions?
Kiz: OK, that was fun. And spectacular. The Avalanche not only won the Stanley Cup, taking it from the two-time defending champions but marched through the playoffs with a 16-4 record. Wowza! So let’s post a question sure to ignite a heated debate between old-school faithful and fans who recently hopped on the bandwagon: Who wins a seven-game series between the 2001 Avs and this year’s team?
Chambers: This team. That third period Sunday night was incredible. In 2001, the Avs had to sweat it out in the third period to hang on and win the Cup with a 3-1 victory in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils. This team’s third period was surgical. Colorado dominated the Lightning, limiting a desperate team to four shots. Clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Avs owned the place. They had Tampa Bay on its heels. It was an impressive way to finish up an unbelievable 16-4 run.
Kiz: Back in ’01, Colorado needed seven games to survive and advance past the L.A. Kings during the second round. But please remember: Captain Joe Sakic missed part of that series with a shoulder injury. So I view that scare as a badge of honor and adversity at least as significant as the absences of Nazem Kadri and Sam Girard during this run. There’s no denying the dominance of Nathan MacKinnon and the boys. But is it fair to say the ’01 Avs faced a tougher road to the Cup?
Chambers: That ’01 team also lost Peter Forsberg (spleen) after Game 7 against the Kings. That was a tight series. But the road to winning the Cup is always a massive grind. I don’t think the 2022 run was less difficult. Just more dominant. Injuries are a staple of chasing the Cup and this team prevailed with ease. Going 16-4 despite losing Girard early in the second round and Kadri midway through the third was highly impressive. And losing Andre Burakovsky in the Cup Final hurt. But this team is so deep — deeper than the ’01 squad. Credit Joe Sakic and his staff for building this machine.
Kiz: Let’s raise a toast to coach Jared Bednar for rising to every challenge, especially every sly move of Tampa Bay counterpart Jon Cooper. And I’ll always cherish the cigars you and I puffed after Game 6. But I have to say the 2001 Avs were better because it all starts with the goaltender in hockey. And nobody has ever been a better money goalie than Patrick Roy. I am curious, though. Can this group of Avs win another championship or two? Am I being greedy to think the answer is yes?
Chambers: The cigars were tasty. I’m sure Bednar had an even better one. He deserves it. First head coach to win the Kelley Cup (ECHL), Calder Cup (AHL) and Stanley Cup. A great coach and an even better person. But I’ll take this team over ’01 because outside of goaltending, it’s just a better hockey club. And Darcy Kuemper came through in the end. He stopped 21 of 22 shots (.957) in Game 6. He played three stellar games, three not so much. Roy will always win the head-to-head comparison but let’s congratulate Kuemper for getting the job done.
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