The Stanley Cup Finals could crown a champion and cement a dynasty the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the New York Islanders in 1983, and the wildest part is the third leg of this 3-peat would be the first in front of a crowd full of fans for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 2020 postseason took place during the height of Covid inside two bubbles set up in Toronto and Edmonton. With no one allowed to attend, only the jovial screams of teammates and coaches were heard when the captain, Steven Stamkos, first raised the Cup. The 2021 season was shortened to 56 games, and sped to another playoff in front of a limited, 3,500 fans.
Quiet rumblings were heard from jealous fanbases stating that these two championships deserved asterisks due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the two playoff runs.
Now, after playing a full 82 game season in front of a raucous fanbase, Stamkos’s team has a chance to silence the doubters and plant themselves as a modern NHL dynasty.
Experience vs. youth defines these Finals
One last foe remains, and defeating them is no easy task. The Avalanche had the most points in the Western Conference during the regular season, led by Nathan MacKinnon, who averages the sixth-most points per playoff game in NHL history. The Avs went 12-2 this postseason and are looking to start a dynasty of their own.
This Stanley Cup Final will be a matchup between Colorado’s burgeoning youth and Tampa Bay’s wiley veterans. MacKinnon vs. 26-year-old Stamkos. Nikita Kucherov, the prolific winger who leads the Lightning in postseason points, vs. 25-year-old Mikko Rantanen, who led the Avalanche in goals scored during the regular season. Victor Hedman vs. 23-year-old Cale Makar.
Will Tampa Bay stamp their names amongst hockey’s greatest teams or will Colorado open up the door to the brightest of futures? One thing’s for sure…
There’s nothing better than playoff hockey.