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Lightning Round: Rays join the Bolts as league finalists from the Tampa Bay area in 2020

Some positive news, which is very rare in 2020.

MLB: ALCS-Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros in the ALCS Game 7 and advanced to the World Series, becoming the second team from Tampa Bay area to reach the final in a Big Four league in 2020. This is also the first time it has happened in history of Tampa Bay sports teams.

In 2004, when the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup, the Rays (the Tampa Bay Devil Rays then) finished the season at the 4th place in the AL East division. In fact, the Devil Rays couldn’t make the postseason until the 2008 season, when they shortened their name to the current Tampa Bay Rays. Another team major league team from Tampa Bay area – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished last in the NFC South and obviously also missed the postseason.

Two years before, in 2002, the Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl XXXVII, becoming the first professional team from Tampa Bay to win one of the major trophies. The Lightning however finished the Southeast Division as the third team and missed playoffs. It was the second season for Lightning coach John Tortorella, after that season they made the postseason four times in a row, including the Stanley Cup victory in 2004. The Devil Rays finished the 2002 season last in the AL East division and missed the postseason as well.

The only Tampa Bay Rays appearance in the World Series before 2020 was in 2008. The Rays won their first division title, defeating the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and ALCS respectively, but lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 1-4 in the World Series. Despite it, the 2008 season was pretty successful for the team as Evan Longoria won the Rookie of the Year Award and Joe Maddon was awarded Manager of the Year.

At the same time the Lightning were slowly nearing the rebuilding mode and missed the postseason for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Head coach John Tortorella was fired following that season, and, as a consolation prize, the Lightning won the draft lottery in 2008 and used their first overall pick to select Steven Stamkos, the face of the franchise for the last decade. The Buccaneers didn’t have a great season either: they finished the third in the NFC South, starting one of longest streak without making the playoffs in the modern NFL.

After winning the ALCS last night, the Rays have a real shot to win their first championship in the franchise history. To follow them during the World Series, check out our colleagues from DRaysBay blog, which are doing the great job covering the team on their playoff run.

Meanwhile the season has just started for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team signed Tom Brady during the offseason, arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, and are hoping to make the postseason for the first time since 2007. So far all three major league teams from Tampa Bay have not made the postseason in the same year, but there’s a great chance that it could happen this year. Currently the Buccaneers are the second in the NFC South division with a 3-2 record after five games. Head to the Bucsnation blog to follow the team during the 2020 season.

Around the League

Meanwhile the offseason continue in the NHL. Yesterday the Boston Bruins announced the signing of defenceman Matt Grzelcyk to a four-year deal with an AAV of $3,678,500. Another great deal for the Bruins who keep impressing during this free agency period.

After a one year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Cody Ceci joins the Pittsburgh Penguins on a one-year contract, worth $1.25 million.

The St. Louis Blues signed their first round selection from the latest draft Jake Neighbours to an entry-level deal.

The Ottawa Senators agreed on a three-year deal with goaltender Joey Daccord.