Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Beat You In Many Ways

05/19/2021 at 6:52am EDT

from John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times,

No offense to the Florida Panthers, but this ain’t about you.

No matter how much Tampa Bay’s neighbors to the south might think this is a rivalry and seem desperate to draw blood, this series was always going to be about the journey of a championship team returning to the postseason after a season of hardships.

The Lightning? They’re still the NHL’s star attraction.

The Panthers? Until proving otherwise, they’re just the extras.

Yes, great teams really can flip a switch in the postseason. It didn’t matter that Florida passed the Lightning in the division standings, and it didn’t matter that the Panthers blew out Tampa Bay in the final two games of the regular season. It didn’t matter that Florida stormed into the playoffs with 10 wins in its last 12 games, or that the Lightning were a .500 team for much of April.

For a lot of these Tampa Bay players, the season’s first six months are just a prelude. They’ve reached the conference finals in four of the last six seasons and know exactly what it’s going to take to still be playing in mid-summer.

You want fast-paced and furious? The Lightning can do that, and beat Florida 5-4 in Game 1. You want pushing and shoving and acting like tough guys? The Panthers tried that in Game 2 on Tuesday night and the Lightning won 3-1. If the Panthers thought it was just the misfortune of special teams that cost them in the playoff opener, the Lightning dissuaded them of that notion in Game 2.

Forty-eight hours into the postseason, Florida’s home-ice has been wasted.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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