The Champagne bottles had not been opened yet. The St. Louis Blues were still on the ice celebrating their surprising game seven win over the Boston Bruins when the Curse of Las Vegas was about to strike yesterday again.
According to the Las Vegas Westgate Super book, The Tampa Lightning have been installed as 6-1 favorites to win the cup in 2020.
The Vegas Golden Knights are 7-1 favorites, while the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Colorado Avalanche have been given 10-1 odds.
This will be the second consecutive season that the Lightning have been anointed Stanley Cup champions before we even know what additions and subtractions to the roster the Lightning will make.
After being crowned the pre-season Stanley Cup favorites for the 2019 season, the Lightning went on to have one of the best seasons in NHL history finishing with 62 wins and 128 points.
The Lightning were then swept in the first round by the upstart Columbus Blue jackets 4-0 and left many Lightning fans wondering what the hell just happened.
No team in NHL had ever been swept in the first round after winning the President’s Trophy.
Hopefully a lesson learned for the Lightning. What you do in the regular season means absolutely nothing when the puck drops in the playoffs.
You need to play some tight meaningful games late in the season to try to create that playoff pressure that is sure to come in the later rounds.
The Lightning clinched in early March and had it on auto-pilot the rest of the way. Oh sure they had a lot of individual records and team accolades they were striving for, but nothing that really prepared them for a long playoff run.
These next four weeks will be real interesting and will need to be watched closely as the free agency period begins July 1, and there are sure to be changes coming to this Lightning team, especially on the blue line.
Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi, and Anton Stralman could all have their salaries come off the books.
Ryan Callahan will be probably be cut loose and the Lightning could ship out Alex Killorn in a trade.
The number one priority of the Lightning this off season is to get Braydon Point signed to a new contract. Some contracts will have to be moved this off-season to make this happen.
Just as important is the re-shaping of the blue line. The defensive group we see next season will be much younger. Erik Cernak will see his minutes increase and Cal Foote will get a good look in training camp to make this roster.
Erik Karlsson, Tyler Myers, and Jake Gardner are all free agents and would look in Lightning blue.
Karlsson has been linked to the Lightning over the last couple of years as he and Victor Hedman are good friends. Don’t know given the Lightning’s salary cap crunch they are up against if they would be able to afford Karlsson.
Here’s hoping the Lightning can shake the Vegas curse and get back to the Stanley Cup finals in 2020.
The window is closing.