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Pass The Friggin' Torch Tour: Opening Number

My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the workings of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

--Robert Browning, Childe Roland of the Dark Tower Came

I don't know... I started thinking of a game one recap and the first stanza from Browning's poem came to mind... I happen to be a big fan of Stephen King's Dark Tower saga and game one of the Stanley Cup Finals does not at all seem to be linked to this poem...

But then again... That stanza, that verse...

When I recall Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, I think about my initial excitement. This was the Tampa Bay Lightning doing the impossible.... They were about to play in the grand event of hockey... Something that seemed implausible and impossible 5 years ago with the depths the Lightning were in. More than five years, in fact... countless years of wondering if the Lightning would rise above mediocrity, rise above and -- dare I suggest it -- dominate.

But I've been through that melodramatic stuff before. I've already said the pomp-and-circumstantial openings, throwing out cliché's and what not. What about the game? What about the game?

And for that, I go back to the opening stanza to Browning's poem...

My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye

Game One was a lie. Game One was presented as a lie to those who had followed the Lightning in 2003-04. This is not discrediting Jerome Ignilia, Marcus Nilson or anyone else on the Flames roster for taking advatage of the lie workings - this is stating that the team that showed up on ice was not who I (nor TB fans in general) should have recognized.

I'll whine about the Philadelphia series taking a lot out of the Bolts -- Six days off would be a luxury the Lightning could desperately have used after the bash-fest versus the Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals. That rest was in Calgary's advantage this time (just as it was in the Lightning's advantage after the sweep of Montreal in the Semi-finals)... The saw an opportunity and took it - which the Lightning themselves were able to do so many times the past season.

Keith mentioned in his post about Tampa Bay getting away with thuggary in the opening game. This brings up two points - one for this game and one for the series in a whole. The Bolts thuggary did deserve major penalties - and I was aghast that it happened at the time. Anyone who looks at that game objectively knows Stillman and Roy are intentionally doing what they were doing. Aside from that, this would show a greater issue during the entire series (and one that had been seen time and again during the playoffs) of officiating and a lack-there-of. That's a can of worms that'll be opened in due time... But it first reared it's ugly head here with Corey and André getting away with their antics.

And to Calgary, one game up against this Lightning team that had been written off and laughed at by the Media all playoffs long...?

Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby

We were going to have to play a hell of a lot better than what we put out that night if we weren't going to be the 5th division champion that Calgary had dispatched.