ECF Game 7 recap: Tampa Bay Lightning (5) at Boston Bruins (3)

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The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals by a score of 1-0.

I could go on about how the game went, some of the statistics, or some of the details of the match. But, really, none of that matters. What matters is the final score, and it wasn't in the Lightning's favor.

So here's what I'm going to say instead.

What a ride, huh? That was one hell of a season. No one expected the Lightning to make it past the first round, let alone make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Who thought they'd make it past the Pittsburgh Penguins? Especially down three game to one at one point? Sure, they didn't have Evgen Malkin or Sidney Crosby, but they were still a formidable team to beat.

Then who thought they'd take the Washington Capitals next? How crazy is that? And they did have their stars in the lineup for most of the series, too; Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin, and Mike Green all played.

And then going a full seven games with the Bruins? And the game not being decided until the bitter end? Back in September no one would've thought to made that call.

As they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

The Lightning had played three dismal seasons before this. Vincent Lecavalier was almost traded away, Martin St. Louis was thinking about asking for a trade, and there was a point when the team could've been sold to another city. That's how bad it got. I know people don't want to remember that, but we all know how it was.

And then this season, with practically the same lineup but with a different owner, general manager, and coaching staff, things changed. Even still, hockey experts didn't see this team finishing much higher than sixth in the Eastern Conference.

But then they took off, and didn't look back. The played until the last second of games, winning them on some nights, and didn't quit. They not only learned how to win, but helped prove that Tampa Bay was really a hockey community after all.

So, thank you, Tampa Bay Lightning. We all thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular ride you gave us this unexpectedly fantastic season. You might not have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year, but you gave it one heck of a shot.

And, seriously, that's not too shabby for a team that wasn't supposed to make it out of the first round.

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