Lightning beat up on Original Six to reach Cup finals
By Tim Wharnsby
The Tampa Bay Lightning have returned to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 11 years with an entirely new cast and new-found confidence after beating the National Hockey League's old guard along the way.
Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards helped the franchise win its only championship back in 2004, but there are no holdovers from that veteran-laden team.
Tampa Bay has a new owner in Jeff Vinik, new general manager Steve Yzerman, a different coach in Jon Cooper and a totally changed roster awaiting the Western Conference champion Anaheim Ducks or Chicago Blackhawks.
Whether the Ducks or Blackhawks emerge, do not expect Tampa Bay to be intimidated when the finals start on Wednesday.
Even though many key Lightning players including captain Steven Stamkos, high-scoring Tyler Johnson and goalie Ben Bishop are making their first deep run into the Stanley Cup playoffs, they are playing like they have been there before.
When the Lightning beat the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden on Friday to reach the final, Tampa Bay became the first team to beat three of the NHL's original six clubs in the same postseason.
The Lightning got by the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the opening round, then the Montreal Canadiens in six games and Rangers in seven games in the East final.
"You know what? We've played in some pretty special buildings along this playoff run so far," said Stamkos, whose team has gone 7-3 on the road in this playoff run. Continued...