How good have the Tampa Bay Lightning been over the last three National Hockey League seasons?
Of course, the Lightning have won two Stanley Cups, and were within two wins of hoisting a third in the summer: everyone knows that.
But this has been done in the new NHL, with salary caps, pandemics, and all manner of things that could go wrong.
According to recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Al Morganti, this might be one of the best feats in the history of the sport; and their reign might continue, which would add to the story.
“I don’t know how they can continue to do it, Morganti said in his blog on onlinecasino.ca. It is amazing in the salary cap age that they have managed to do it. I mean, goaltending, Stamkos, the team leaders continue to push, and you have to give the coach, Jon Cooper, a lot of credit for just getting them onboard all the time. They have done it through pandemic and coming out of it.
“I suspect that they will be one of the contenders at the end, but for the life of me, I can’t believe they will be able to do this again and get through the really tough waters in the East.”
While Morganti has been so impressed with the way the Lightning have made three-straight Stanley Cup Finals and won two of them, he also acknowledges that there is some luck to go with it, as well as some timely returns from the injury list.
“You can see the wear and tear, and there are also international competitions when you are dealing with hockey, and your better players are also always involved in those. But I think more than that, I just think it is fortune: just the good fortune that you have to have in terms of being healthy at the right time. It is a game of attrition in terms of injury, so you need to be healthy at the right time.
“That is why Tampa, you look at some of the long-term injuries they have had, but then have gotten them back for playoff runs, that has been a key to their success. The drive it takes, to go through an entire season, and then a really, really, long playoff trail to do it. When people talk about dynasties in the past, whether it is the Canadiens, Yankees or Celtics, I don’t even compare that to now. You had to go through one or two series, compared to four now, to get to a cup. That is what is most amazing. There is no way you could have those runs, even without free agency, with the number of playoff games you have to get though now. Even baseball, adding a wild card, it just adds so much to it.
“If you look at Tampa, you look at all the big names they had, and you realize all the big names they had, a lot of times it is the third liner, it is those other guys – the depth guys – that played a big role in the end. Part of that is the leadership in the team includes them in everything during the season. You can’t have a team that just has the stars – the top two line guys and the top defensemen – are sort of separate. You have to have everybody included in it to manage to go through. That is why the coaching job they did in Tampa was so terrific. And you have to have a general manager, and front office, that knows how to deal with the cap to get those people in.”