The Tampa Bay Lightning will be back stronger than ever.
This is a team that is built for a few more deep playoff runs.
Losing 4-2 in the SCF to the Colorado Avalanche team was disappointing.
As a Lightning fan, you must tip your hat to the Avalanche. They were the better team in this series and earned the Stanley Cup.
But when you have five future Hall of Famers on your team, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Corey Perry, you have a few good runs ahead of you.
The greatest compliment came from Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar who called this Lightning team “the benchmark.”
After defeating the Lightning in six games, Bednar said the Lightning is the team that everyone is striving to reach. Bednar talked about Tampa’s two back-to-back Cup wins and playing in a third final, saying, “I don’t know how they did it.”
The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports. It is gut-wrenching to lose in the finals after a deep playoff run.
Doctors will be busy this summer as they put the Lightning back together. Here is a partial list of the injuries the Lightning players were able to play through.
Brayden Point had a torn quad muscle. Bellemare had a meniscus injury going into the playoffs. Cirelli suffered an AC joint sprain and will need surgery. McDonagh played with a mangled finger sustained in the Ranger series. Kucherov had a meniscus injury. Brandon Hagel played with a fractured foot. Nick Paul had a shoulder AC joint sprain and an MCL sprain. Corey Perry had a shoulder AC joint sprain.
Yet, this mash unit was able to take the best team in the league to a six-game Stanley Cup Final and was within an eyelash of forcing a game seven.
The Lightning will now get some extended time off. The most time they have had off between seasons in three years.
Julien BriseBois and the front office staff will be busy. This is the busiest time of the year for an NHL front office with free agency opening and many roster decisions to be made.
Of course, the Lightning would like to return most players from this year’s Stanley Cup run. They have already opened talks with the agents for Nick Paul, Ondrej Palat, and Jan Rutta. The trick will be to find a way to fit salaries under the cap.
This team is not going away. When you have Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, and Andrei Vasileviskiy on the roster, you can never be counted out.
And Hall of Fame coach Jon Cooper will also be back behind the bench for the foreseeable future.
The summer of discontent will be a long one. But there should be nothing but admiration and respect for this team that gave us all they had this post-season.
Three Stanley Cup finals in three years put the Lightning in elite company. The Edmonton Oilers of 1983, 1984, and 1985 were the last team to play in three consecutive Stanley Cup finals.
This team can take its place alongside the Edmonton Oilers of the mid to late 80s. The New York Islanders of the early ’80s. And the Montreal Canadiens of the 70’s as one of the best dynasties in NHL history.
Four cup finals in eight seasons in the salary cap era are something to be appreciated. Let’s not forget the president’s trophy won by the Lightning in 2019.
As we close the curtain on the 2021-2022 season, know that the future continues to shine bright, and this team indeed has another deep playoff run or two left in them.