Defenceman Erik Johnson says he is pleased to put past playoff disappointment behind him and have a chance to finally win the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche will appear in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2001 and are 5/9 to lift the Cup and deny the Tampa Bay Lightning a third consecutive championship.
What: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche, Stanley Cup Finals Game 1
Where: Ball Arena, Denver
When: 01:00, Thursday 16th June, 2022
How to watch: Premier Sport or bet365's Sports Live Streaming
Johnson, 34, signed for the Avalanche in 2010 from the St. Louis Blues and has experienced everything with the team from stretches of missing the playoffs completely to more recently three consecutive second round exits when expectations were to reach where they find themselves now.
Now an associate Captain of the club, Johnson admits the long journey to the Stanley Cup Final has been a turbulent one, but insists it's one the Avalanche have learnt from and are better for.
A first overall pick of the Blues in 2006, Johnson will make his first Final appearance in his 15th NHL season.
In 14 playoff games this season, the 6'4" stay-at-home blue-liner has contributed five points (one goal, four assists) in 14 games.
The Avalanche have eliminated the Nashville Predators, Blues and Edmonton Oilers in their playoff run.
Johnson reflected to the media: "We've been knocking on the door here. Sometimes you have to learn how to lose before you can win. Sometimes that sticks with you. It's tough to go through that, it happens. We're just a resilient group. We've stuck with it.
"To have this opportunity to play for the Cup after so many heartbreaks and disappointments, to get that push through the Second Round and the Conference Final and now onto the Final is big."