Thick Brush Stroke

Denver - Colorado Snow has long longed for Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, it's the lightning that stands between the snowfall since 2001 and their first Stanley Cup win.

Thick Brush Stroke

The two-time defending champions lightning overtook the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday to reach their third consecutive Cup final, starting here on Wednesday.

The two-time defending champions lightning overtook the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday to reach their third consecutive Cup final, starting here on Wednesday.

The superiority of Tampa Bay is what this Avalanche has been chasing. And now, it's within reach - if they can oust the NHL's heavyweights.

The way I see it, you should expect to be able to beat the best to be the best, "AVS coach Jared Bedner said on Sunday." That's what they are.

They are a team that everyone is trying to model later. They have reached the final for the third time in a row. They have won twice in a row.

That's what every team is trying to do, not just go there, stay there and be relevant every season in all conversations with the best teams in the league and move forward to prove that they are one. "

Colorado has already laid the groundwork there. Stanley Cup play-off Avalanche is 12-2 so far, both in their first-round series against Nashville and in the Western Conference Final against Edmonton.

Colorado has been inactive since securing Clarence Campbell Bowl on June 6, with the Lightning or Rangers waiting to see if they will have a final matchup.

It was poetic to see the Tampa Bay come through (again). Colorado can measure itself directly against the club that has dominated their game for the past few years, in the hope that they will succeed Tampa Bay in that role.

"They're a really good team, but we're also confident," said Colorado defender Bowen Byram. "We have a really good team. Getting to the cup final is not easy.

We are excited for it. They have a really good team and we have to play our best to beat them. But we are excited for that challenge.

Bedner admits he has never faced a team like Tampa Bay in the Colorado post season. The Lightning has excellent goaltending from Andrei Vasilev sky (.928 SV%, 2.27 GAA through 17 playoff games) and is aggressive on boxing teams across the net.

Bedner said his focus on preparing for Tampa Bay began when they were 3-2 up in the series against New York, but the key is not to be afraid of what is happening in front of Colorado.