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Lightning Round: The end of the quarterfinals in the best Bolts team bracket

The 14-15 Cup Final team faces last season’s disappointment.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders - Game Four Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Over the next few weeks, we’re running a bracket to determine the best Tampa Bay Lightning team in franchise history. Each day, we’ll put two of the 27 teams since the inaugural season in 1992-1993 up against each other to determine a winner until we’re left with who the community thinks is the best version of the Lightning.

We’ve reached the last matchup of the quarterfinals and there aren’t any easy decisions left in the bracket. Yesterday, recent teams continued to dominate as the 17-18 team came out ahead against the 02-03 team. I’m a little surprised how lopsided that one was but in the end, I think the outcome was probably correct. Here’s where the bracket stands heading into today.

The Matchup

At this point, I don’t think we need to keep going into the details of every season. We’ve covered both of these teams multiple times in this series and both are from the Jon Cooper era so I think we all knows these groups well.

But just because we know them well doesn’t mean this will be an easy choice. Based on how the seasons ended, the 14-15 team is the clear favorite. They’re the only team aside from the Cup champion 03-04 to make it all the way to the Cup Final. They lost to Chicago in a close six game series where if a couple breaks had gone in the favor, they could have easily ended up with a different outcome.

That group also signaled the arrival of the Lightning as a perennial contender. Including that season, they’ve made the playoffs in five of the last six seasons including this one and been to a Stanley Cup Final and two Eastern Conference Finals.

The opponent today for the 14-15 team is the only team in this stretch to make the playoffs and not advance to at least the ECF. The 18-19 group was bounced in a first round sweep by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Again, we don’t have to rehash the details. We all know what happened there.

If we look at the regular season resumes of these two teams, the 18-19 team’s is undeniably better. They were an historically great team in terms of wins and losses as well as goal differential. But the 14-15 team was no slouch. They won 50 games, led the league in goals, and finished second in goal differential. In terms of shot metrics, the 14-15 team was arguably better finishing 3rd in 5v5 expected goal share while the 18-19 team finished 7th.

Choosing a winner here depends on how much emphasis you put on playoff success. If that’s your primary barometer, the 14-15 team wins easily. But the more heavily you weigh the regular season, the closer this becomes.

Below, for reference, are the rosters for the two teams as a refresher.

2018-2019 Lightning (62-16-4, 9th place)

2014-2015 Lightning (50-24-8, 2nd place)

The Vote

Now for the fun part. Cast your vote for which team you think should advance to the semi finals to face the 17-18 team.

Poll

Which is the better Tampa Bay Lightning team?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    2014-2015
    (21 votes)
  • 38%
    2018-2019
    (13 votes)
34 votes total Vote Now

Today’s News and Notes

The Washington Capitals took the appropriate step in terminating Brendan Leipsic’s contract after screenshots of group chats emerged yesterday showing him making repeated misogynistic remarks.

The NHL announced yesterday that they’re postponing all international events for 2020.

The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association today announced the postponement of its 2020 international games.

The NHLPA and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence. We hope that our fans overseas understand the need to postpone the 2020 games, but we look forward to being back with them in 2021.

Paul McFarland will be leaving the Leafs after coaching the power play last season to become head coach of the OHL Kingston Frontiacs.

The Kingston Frontenacs are proud to announce the return of Paul McFarland as Head Coach. The Toronto native, who coached the Frontenacs to the franchise’s best record in 2015-16 and led the team to the second round of the OHL playoffs in two of his three seasons as head coach, returns to the OHL after three seasons as an assistant coach in the NHL. The multi-year deal to return as the Head Coach of the Kingston Frontenacs begins once the Toronto Maple Leafs conclude their 2019-20 season.

We got a couple new signings yesterday as well with the Montreal Canadiens signing defensive prospect Alexander Romanov to a three year entry level contract and the New York Rangers signing goalie prospect Tyler Wall to a two year entry level contract.

For the hockey card fans, Justin broke down the new Upper Deck Allure set.

Allure is shiny in a way that may remind some collectors of old Score Select or OPC Platinum. For me, shiny is always good. The cards scan a lot darker than they appear in hand. The borders are more of a silver than black color. The photos of the players are isolated with no other players or exciting action shots which is typical with a set like this. Rookie cards are marked with a badge opposite the Upper Deck logo. Player and team name are on the bottom of the card and easy to see.

You can listen to me on a podcast discussing Steve Yzerman with the Red Wings folks over at Wingin’ in Motown.