After getting beat by Chicago in 2015, and five years of disappointing playoff exits, Lord Stanleys Cup is back in Tampa right where it belongs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions.
This was the hardest of Stanley Cups to win.
The season was shut down in March with just weeks to go in the regular season. No one knew if the season would resume, or if there would be any playoffs.
In June, two months after no hockey activity, the League announced that players could begin skating on their own and work out in small groups on their own at the team’s training facility.
In July, the NHL announced that there would be a second training camp. The season would resume August first in what they were calling bubble cities. Toronto Ontario, and Edmonton Alberta, in Canada.
There would be no fans in attendance at any of the games.
Teams would have to be sequestered away from their families for up to two months to chase a Stanley Cup.
Each team would have two exhibition games before the season resumed.
The Lightning would then play three games against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning went two and one in this round-robin tournament and finished as the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning would be matched against the team that embarrassed them in lasts year’s playoffs and swept them out of the playoffs after having one of the best regular-season records in NHL history. The Columbus Blue Jackets.
The first game in the series went into five-overtimes as the Lightning edged the Blue Jackets 3-2. The Lightning would go on to win that series four games to one getting a small measure of revenge for lasts year’s first-round sweep.
The Boston Bruins were up next. The Lightning and the Bruins have had their battles over the years. Both in the regular season and the playoffs.
The Bruins finished with the best record during the regular season. After losing the first game of the series, the Lightning reeled off four straight to take out the Bruins four games to one.
The New York Islanders were up next in the Eastern Conference finals. The Lightning scored eight goals in game one of the series, but the islanders quickly tightened up defensively and made it a pretty good series. The Lightning prevailed four games to two to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Dallas Stars came into the final as one of the hottest teams in the playoffs beating the favorites, the Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights to earn their first Cup final in 21 years.
It appeared that the Lightning just wore down the Stars, as they seemed to slow down as the series wore on. The Lightning prevailed four games to two and won their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Lightning were the favorites at the beginning of the season and were the favorites as the playoffs commenced in August.
This time there would be no letdown. The Lightning would take care of business and bring the cup back to Tampa.
This will go down in the history books as one of the best teams in Lightning history.
Andrei Vasilevskiy played every minute of every playoff game and should have been considered for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which went to Victor Hedman.
Nikita Kucherov passed Marty St.Louis as the all-time points leader for the Lightning in playoff history.
Pat Maroon won his second consecutive Stanley Cup after winning the cup with the St. Louis Blues last season.
Blake Coleman, who grew up a Stars fan and attended many of their games as a child, got his first goal in the finals against the Stars.
Can the Lightning repeat? Will they be the first team to win back to back Stanley Cups since the Pittsburgh Penguins of 2016 and 2017?
Let’s just enjoy this one. There will be plenty of time to analyze that question and dissect it during the short off-season.
For now, let’s embrace the moment and enjoy this team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions, and no one can take that away.