Kukla's Korner

At This Point, Continued Lightning Success Should Be No Surprise

At this point, I suppose there should no longer be any surprise factor to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s continued playoff success.

Not when they’ve just completed their eighth straight postseason victory to take a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final.

This team has quickly evolved from having some upset potential and the golden opportunity for a deep playoff run in the wide open East into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

At this point, you can’t look at it any other way.

Not when they have the early advantage in their own series and out west, the other conference finalists, set to kick things off tonight, have had to endure similarly grueling paths to the West Final that very well may have each squad significantly worn down already with plenty of damage left to inflict upon each other in the upcoming series.

The Lightning, a team that is truly “all in” (as their season’s official slogan dictates), have established themselves as a bona fide threat to win it all after a remarkable rally from a 3-1 deficit to Pittsburgh in round one, a stunning sweep of Washington thereafter and the early upper hand now against Boston. That they have done so as a club that has taken on the classic look of a championship team cements their case.

Methodical coaching. Solid goaltending. A responsible and effective defense corps. Tremendous scoring depth up front. Dominant special teams. Invaluable intangibles.

Really, it’s all there and maybe a little “shame on us” is in order for not recognizing as much earlier, but that – then – would have been a bit irresponsible, what with so many newcomers from the top of the organization on down and all. Now, this quickly, it is anything but, and in the grand scheme of things, while the quickness with which the Bolts have gone from the dregs of the NHL to one of its upper echelon teams was not to be expected, at this point, whatever is contained in the final chapter of their 2010-11 story, up to and including a second Stanley Cup for the franchise, cannot be considered a surprise.

Not when they continue to put forth the kind of effort and execution as they did in game one against the Bruins, making an excellent team and an all-world goaltender look awfully mundane in the process.

The stage has been set here, it seems, for far longer than just this already impressive playoff run. After all, championship teams don’t just come together spontaneously. But some might see it as such, given the speed of Tampa’s turnaround and the magnitude of what just might happen here. Instead, it began in the preseason, where the idea of learning and improving from one day to the next was instilled immediately.

Something special is indeed brewing with this bunch and the point where that all boils over is no longer so far off in the distance that it cannot be recognized.

It’s now visible, albeit with much work still to be done before it can be reached. But it is out there and the Bolts can say this morning that they are now closer to the pinnacle of the sport than anyone else. They won’t, of course, in favor of their latest rally cry: “We haven’t won anything yet.”

After all that we’ve seen, however, the Tampa Bay Lightning do have it within themselves to win everything, when all is said and done.

And if that does come to pass, at this point, how surprised can any of us honestly say we would be?

***

Look for more back-and-forth Q&A between TheBruinsBlog.net’s Matt Kalman and I, with reaction to last night’s game and a look ahead, later today.

JJ
jj@kuklaskorner.com
JJ on Twitter

Filed in: Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

Comments

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

During the third period last night, CBC said the last time a goalie won 8 straight playoff games was in 1969 (Jacques Plant).

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 05/15/11 at 12:28 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

CBC showed Yzerman in the 3rd period, right after another Bolt was yet again thrown out of the faceoff circle.  He was visibly pissed and frustrated.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 05/15/11 at 12:41 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

They are looking Cinderalla-ish

Posted by Evilpens on 05/15/11 at 01:17 PM ET

Avatar

What happen to Dana tyrell?

Posted by Tolly Ravioli from Tampa on 05/15/11 at 01:25 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

Tyrell’s got a foot issue. He’s said to be progressing. But I like the current mix, personally. No offense to Dana…

I saw that shot of Yzerman, Todd… Chuckled to myself a bit. He has that same look of intensity he had as a player quite often. (Saw it first hand in a regular season game this year where, after disagreeing with a penalty call, he came looking for officiating supervisor, Don Koharski…) smile

JJ

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 05/15/11 at 01:33 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

Yzerman has successfully implemented a culture of teamwork, toughness, and attention to detail in Tampa Bay. Essentially it is a team crafted in his own self-image.

I empathize with his frustration over the faceoffs, but he must have been filled with delight reading the post game stats.

Tampa utterly destroyed Boston in the faceoff circle 61% yo 39%. Here are the stats for their heavy hitters:

Lecavalier was 16-10 or 61.5%, Stamkos was 4-1 or 80%, Thompson was 9-3 or 75%, and Moore was 6-4 or 60%.

Just absolute domination in a facet of the game that can lead to so many positive outcomes like quality scoring chances or knocking a few precious seconds off the opponent’s possession during a power play.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Algiers, DZ on 05/15/11 at 04:20 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Tampa utterly destroyed Boston in the faceoff circle 61%

I’m aware of the stats, but regarding faceoffs….
Last night it seemed that the Bolts were ejected regularly on their offensive faceoffs giving Boston the edge on faceoffs in their own zone.  61% overall does not reflect that fact.  The linesman was just screwing around with the faceoffs, there were a lot of false starts where no one was ejected.  CBC showed a closeup of one faceoff where the linesman held the puck in the drop position and just waited while the viewer (and centerman) could count 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi and so on all the way past 4 or 5.
The sad fact is that one team gets saddled with the same linesman for 2 full periods of offensive faceoffs.  The tactics of linesman dropping the puck needs to be more consistent from one individual to the next.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 05/15/11 at 04:43 PM ET

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