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The Avalanche and Lightning Kick Off the Stanley Cup Final Tonight, Will Panthers Fans Be Watching?

Bruins Panthers Hockey
Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas (7) and center Aleksander Barkov (16) celebrate a win over the Boston Bruins following an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

Game one of the Stanley Cup Final is set for tonight in Denver at 8:00 PM.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be returning for the third year in a row to take on the Colorado Avalanche in the best-of-seven series after beating the Rangers 2-1 over the weekend.

The Bolts took the series against New York in six games but understand what kind of challenge awaits them.

“The way I look at it is, to be the best you’ve got to expect to be able to beat the best,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said Sunday. “That’s them. They’re the team that everyone’s trying to model after. They’re in the Final for the third year in a row. They’ve just won twice in a row. That’s what every team is trying to do, not just get there but stay there and be relevant every season in all the conversations with the best teams in the league and go on to prove that they are one.”

The Avs are 12-2 thus far in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and have swept both their first-round series against Nashville and the Western Conference finals against Edmonton. They’re also the highest scoring team in the playoffs this season.

Despite their success, Bednar admitted Colorado hasn’t faced a team quite like Tampa Bay and a goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy (.928 SV%, 2.27 GAA through 17 playoff games)

After losing in the second round to the Lightning, Florida Panthers fans will most likely root for the Avs, but many will also avoid watching the series altogether.

Which side are you on?