On Sept. 28 at 9:51 p.m., the Tampa Bay Lightning official Twitter tweeted, “THIS IS OUR TIME. YOUR TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING ARE STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!!” (https://twitter.com/TBLightning/status/1310774088248569856?s=20) signifying the end of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the end of the Dallas Stars’ humbling attempt to overpower their contender.
In game five of the finals, the Stars showed off their signature grit and were able to delay the inevitable. They survived elimination by winning in double overtime, pushing the series to six games. The Dallas Stars made a valiant effort to battle through game six but fell short of tying the series and pushing their luck to a game seven; Tampa Bay seemed unreachable and unbeatable.
The winning team miraculously cracked the Stars’ offensive strategies, denying every shot on goal and preventing any pushes from their opposers – but then again, Dallas didn’t seem to be putting in the necessary amount of energy, only managing eight shots on goal in the first two periods of the game.
The third period ended 2-0 after the Stars offense finally decided to wake up, managing 13 shots on goal in the last twenty minutes – not only handing Tampa Bay the championship title, but giving their goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy his first shutout in a playoff year during the Stanley Cup clinching game. He joined 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso as the only two to accomplish this feat. (https://twitter.com/PR_NHL/status/1310798686469918720?s=20)
Being the second time in Tampa Bay Lightning history that the team has been named Stanley Cup Champions, the celebrations have understandably been unending. In the past week, the Tampa Bay Lightning Twitter has attempted to properly portray the buzz and happiness present inside and outside of the champions locker room, showing numerous players spraying bottles of champagne, engulfing teammates in hugs, and clinging to the Stanley Cup as if it was the most important thing in the world (and to them, it just might be).
While the champions were celebrating, however, Dallas Stars’ forward Tyler Seguin admitted that the playoff life was difficult as the ideas of COVID-19 loomed around every corner. According to an article from TheScore, Seguin admitted, “…there’s nothing positive you’re going to take from the bubble life. It definitely (stunk) and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing family and friends now.” (https://www.thescore.com/nhl/news/2031718).
Seguin spoke about how the playoffs were obviously entertaining to be a part of and how being surrounded by teammates in Edmonton for so long was fun, but being away from home and being stuck in one city made “bubble life” the hardest time of Seguin’s life as a professional athlete.
The 2020 Stanley Cup Finals was a battle of wits and skill, but also a battle of “who wants it the most?” Neither team has had much luck in the finals and before this season, both teams had won one Stanley Cup Championship a piece. The Tampa Bay Lightning has gotten close in seasons prior – losing to Chicago in 2015 in an eerily similar way to how they trumped Dallas; a 2-0 loss in game six.
The efforts of both teams that don’t have the most successful history in the NHL begs the question of: who is next? Will it be a top-ranking team or an underdog situation? Perhaps the Montreal Canadiens will take the off-season to improve, grab a few draft picks, and come back sharper than ever for the 2021 playoffs. Maybe the San Jose Sharks or the Arizona Coyotes will hoist their first Stanley Cup over their heads and celebrate like they’re the 2020 Tampa Bay Lightning.
Who knows? Maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning have a few more tricks up their sleeves; maybe we haven’t seen the last of captain Steven Stamkos and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Victor Hedman. But that’s the glory of hockey – it can be anyone’s game if they’re willing to work for it.