The Tampa Bay Lightning cemented their legacy into the NHL history books winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup with a series-clinching 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens to win the series four games to one.
The Lightning becomes the first team to repeat since the 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins.
From the moment the puck dropped in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, it was evident that Montreal was in for an uphill battle in this Stanley Cup final.
Indeed the Lightning was the quicker, more physical, and the more talented offensive team. They showed it in all five games.
In other words, the Tampa Bay Lightning was the better team in all facets of the game. And that’s clearly why the Lightning is celebrating back-to-back Stanley Cups.
It also helps when you have the best goaltender in the world and the Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal.
What a privilege it was to be in the arena as the Lightning lifted their second straight Stanley Cup. It is something I’ll never forget.
As soon as the game ended, many hockey experts were already calling this Lightning team one of the best teams in NHL history.
Former NHL GM Craig Button said, “You’re watching history. Back-to-back puts you in a group that makes it special. It hasn’t been done very often.
Eddie Olczyk, the NBC Analyst, was also impressed with the Lightning Run of back-to-back cups. “You look back at this back-to-back and go, ‘That’s as good a run as we’ve seen.”
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos talked about what a great accomplishment this was going back to back. “This group, no matter what happens from here on out, you deserve to go down in history. And that’s pretty f-ing special.”
Jon Cooper called this an exceptional group. “Just a special, special, special group. And, who knows, I guess we’ll see if we can three-peat.”
There were several great storylines for the Lightning this post-season, none better than Nikita Kucherov leading the NHL playoffs in scoring after missing the entire 2020-21 regular season recovering from hip surgery.
It was also revealed after the series-clinching win that Kucherov played the last six games of the playoffs with a fractured rib.
-Kucherov finished this playoff run with 32 points. He becomes only the third player in NHL history to score over 30 points in back to back playoff series. The other two. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
-Conn Smythe winner Andrei Vasilevskiy had five shutouts. The most in a playoff run since Ken Dryden of Montreal in the mid-’70s.
-Moreover, the grind line of Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Yanni Gourde proved to be the best Lightning line in the cup final and was a real pain to play against.
Nikita Kucherov talked with the press after the game. He did not hold back. Maybe it was the beer talking. Take the time to watch this. It will put a smile on your face and will be one of the most entertaining press conferences you will see today.
The Lightning knows that this is the last run for this team as it is currently put together. The team will lose a pretty good player in the expansion draft coming up later this month when the Seattle Kraken begins putting their team together for the upcoming season.
The Lightning is already over the salary cap with just 19 players under contract. Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and David Savard are all free agents.
The Lightning will also lose someone like Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, or perhaps fan-favorite Alex Killorn in a salary-cap move.
Despite this, the Tampa Bay Lightning will hit the ice in September for training camp and their eyes on a three-peat.
The good news is that the core of this Lightning team will return for a chance at a three-peat in 2021-22. However, Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, Braydon Point, and Steven Stamkos will return with a great supporting cast.
Tampa fans need to cherish this run by its sports teams. Tampa has won three championships in 282 days, the quickest for any city in pro sports since Detroit in 1936.
In the past ten months, Tampa has enjoyed two Stanley Cup Championships, a Super Bowl Championship, and a World Series appearance.
What a great time to be a Tampa sports fan.