It took the Tampa Bay Lightning some time to find their game, but now that they have, the teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been put on notice. While the Colorado Avalanche are the favourites to win according to the SportsBooks, the Lightning are the real favourites. As the old saying goes, the champs are the champs until somebody beats them. And after their last three performances, with their commitment to playing a team game, the Lightning are clearly the team to beat and it is not even close.
Team Commitment Makes Tampa Bay Lightning So Successful
While the rest of the hockey world might be getting sick of the Tampa Bay Lightning winning, their commitment to playing as a team offensively and defensively has to be admired. It all started back in Game 7 of their first-round matchup against Toronto and it has carried over into the second round against the Florida Panthers.
“Basically, all 20 guys, you might as well put #88 on their back. That is what they were doing, said head coach Jon Cooper after their Game 7 win. They were fully committed to blocking shots. When you play with that passion, usually good things happen.”
This commitment to playing a team-first game has allowed the Lightning to be on the cusp of greatness as head coach Jon Cooper said before Game 7 of the Maple Leafs series. The Lightning players know what it takes to win because of the philosophy of Jon Cooper. Even with players coming and going, the resolve is the same. The players are buying in because winning is all about sacrifice. Just look at Game 2 against the Florida Panthers in the second round. It was a war of attrition for the Tampa Bay Lightning. From warm-ups through the end of the game, players were heading in and out of the locker room. It started with Corey Perry getting stitches prior to the game, then Erik Cernak took a puck to the face, and his jersey told the story. Mikhail Sergachev, Steven Stamkos, and Brandon Hagel, also made their way down the tunnel to get looked at. But every player returned to the ice and continued to play the same way.
Around Full Press Hockey
It Starts With The Captain
What was most telling was the Lightning captain Steven Stamkos blocking shots. Stamkos is not a guy that is known for blocking shots. He usually leaves that up to Cernak and Ryan McDonagh. Especially, McDonagh, who leads the playoffs it seems, like every season in blocked shots. But when you have tasted the mountain top, you want to get there again. And if you don’t think Stamkos wants to win, he does. He blocked multiple shots, including one off of his hand. He went to the locker room multiple times and returned. And if you are a player on the Lightning and you see him sacrificing his body for the good of the group that carries over to other players. Take a guy like Brandon Hagel. Hagel was in a much bigger role in Chicago before he got traded to Tampa Bay. But Hagel finally adjusted to his role and he blocked a shot on the inside of the skate and had to be helped down the tunnel late in period three of the Lightning 2-1 victory over the Panthers. Hagel returned to finish the game. The cost of winning by sacrificing your body is contagious. Whether it is current players or guys that have just come in. Everyone is buying into the commitment of playing team-first hockey.
Before the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, they were handed a lesson on what it takes to win the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets. It started with the commitment to playing defence first hockey. The Lightning can score at will and be gifted offensively, but come playoff time it is all about defence.
“Defence is a commitment,” Cooper said prior to Game 2. “When you’re playing defence you don’t have the puck and there’s a lot of choices that have to be made. I don’t think I’m alone in this, but when you play 82 games, the same commitment to playing defence is not always there, and it’s understandable. Guys are tired. They’re playing five games in eight nights.”
“We have a recipe that’s worked for us these past few springs, and these guys have an ability that when it gets tough — and now it’s time to dig your heels in — they do it,” Cooper continued. “It’s done in so many different ways. But it is the play when they don’t have the puck that’s really kind of stabilized us these last couple of games.”
It all comes down to playing the right way for the Lightning. They know against good offensive teams like the Panthers and Maple Leafs prior, they needed to play good defence or else any little mistake ends up in the back of their net. Not to mention, the little things of making better decisions with the puck have led to the turnaround in the Lightning’s game. The Lightning are showing what a championship team looks like. The sacrifices that need to be made. A commitment to defence and playing team-first hockey. It might not always be pretty, but it does not need to be in the playoffs. The champs are the champs for a reason.
Ep 32: Bruins Fire Bruce Cassidy; Avalanche To Stanley Cup; Bolts/Rangersby Full Press Coverage on June 8, 2022 at 4:09 pm
Mike, Jim, and Chris react to the Bruins firing of Bruce Cassidy, the […]
Ep 73: Bruins Face Elimination; Bruce Cassidy On Hot Seat; Patrice Bergeron Final Standby Full Press Coverage on May 12, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Ian and Chris discuss game six between the Bruins and Hurricanes and the […]
Ep 72: Bruins Acquire Hampus Lindholm; More Moves To Come?by Full Press Coverage on March 20, 2022 at 3:34 pm
Ian and Chris discuss the trade of Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins and what […]
S3E33 - Stanley Cup Final - Avalanche vs Lightningby Jim Biringer on June 19, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Jim is joined by Marc Weiss and Coach Jay as they discuss the Stanley Cup […]
S3Ep32 - Eastern Conference Final and Colorado Avalanche Advanceby Jim Biringer on June 11, 2022 at 9:37 pm
Jim is joined by Coach Jay and Marc Weiss to discuss the Eastern […]
6/24 - WSOP; NBA Finals Talk; Stanley Cup Coming To An End; NBA Draftby Full Press Coverage on June 24, 2022 at 2:15 pm
Ian and John are back to discuss the World Series of Poker, the NBA Finals […]
6/15 - Celtics Falter In San Fran, Can They Force A Game 7?by Full Press Coverage on June 15, 2022 at 4:23 pm
Ian and John discuss the Celtics loss in Game 5 and what they have to do […]
6/13 - Goodfellas; Celtics/Warriors, Stanley Cup Finalby Full Press Coverage on June 13, 2022 at 4:46 pm
Ian and John discuss the Celtics loss in Game 4 and look ahead to Game 5 […]