Needless to say, when you win a Game 7, especially against the NHL Poster Boys, all eyes are going to be on you. The Lightning did just that last night, disposing of the Pittsburgh Penguins and completing a comeback from 3-1.
When you add to it the upcoming war against the division foe Washington Capitals - a rivalry that got its own measure of notice from around the league - the spotlight becomes even brighter. We've put together a list of links, quotes, and other notables to help recap the series with the Penguins and whet your appetite for the Conference Semifinals against the Caps.
"Once we got into the playoffs, we thought, ‘You know what? If we could win a round ...' "
- Steve Yzerman (via The Sporting News)
"Do you ever go into writing an article figuring you're going to win the Nobel Peace Prize? No. It's just one of those things where it had nothing to do with me. It was all about our guys who did everything humanly possible to prevent any good quality shots."
"Unreal series for him considering that he can't even ride roller coasters."
"I've said it all year: I'm proud to be on the Lightning again.
"Boo friggin' hoo."
- John Romano (via St. Pete Times). Love it!
"All credit to coach Guy Boucher for keeping his team focused on the task at hand as well as planning for any surprises down the road. If they want to survive the next round, the Lightning need to stick with what has worked to get them there in the first place."
- Amy Hernstrom, Chicks Who Give a Puck
"In a class move, the Penguins presented the Lightning with a game puck to commemorate their first series win since 2004. The Bolts will give the puck to assistant coach Wayne Fleming who is battling brain cancer."
- Bill Philip, Hockey Independent
"First I'd like to give a big hearty screw you to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for showing Game One to Game Six, but not touching Game Seven. You public broadcasting fiends! You get me addicted to actually watching Lightning playoff games on television in my very own home, and then you switch it off! You're the anti-crack dealers. Instead of getting me hooked and then jacking up the price, you just said ‘Free sample's up, no more crack for you.' "
"Don't confuse simple with easy because this was far from a matter of assuming the position and getting the result."
"If you followed our team, that was our trademark -- those third-liners, the grinders, the defensemen. We always have new heroes every game."
"This should be a great tilt. But have to go with the Caps to advance to their first conference final since 1998. Washington in 6."
- Scott Burnside via ESPN. Given he didn't provide any real difference-maker in that article, we'll chalk him going with the Capitals up to the fact that he works at ESPN, and that's his default settings.
SB Nation DC has their own preview of the series, but... um... Call me biased, but just when did this become Steven Stamkos' team? Vinny and Marty still wear the primary letters for this team, and if you look at the stats for March and April, you'll see who carried this team out of their slump, and full-bore into the playoffs.
The Caps are focusing on fewer turnovers. Let's all hope and pray that the Lightning are focusing on that as well. (via Washington Post)
"If we're successful, you guys will say they're tired. If we're not, for the most part we're rusty."
- Bruce Boudreau (via the AP / Yahoo Sports). Say what you will about the guy, but I love that quote, and calling out the cliche.