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Lightning Round: How do you feel about the second-straight cup, Lightning fans?

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Both victories felt differently

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

It was a strange year. A little more than a year ago we were stuck in uncertainty about the future after the Covid-19 outbreak. The speculation about a potential cancellation of the Stanley Cup playoffs were so prevalent that you could start believing the Tampa Bay Lightning missed their last chance to win the Cup before the upcoming cap crunch absorbed them. If someone would have said a year ago, that the Lightning would raise the Cup twice in little less than 10-month period, probably no one would believe it.

Things have turned in Lightning’s favour, not only did they win their first Stanley Cup in 16 years, but managed to keep basically the same team and went for their second-straight Cup, joining the likes of the 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins or the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings as back-to-back champs.

While the last year’s victory felt as a long-awaited accomplishment and I remember being nervous during the whole playoffs, this year’s Stanley Cup run hits differently. Frankly, I personally didn’t expect them to be that good in the postseason as the last month of regular season was so bleak and frustrating that even addition of Nikita Kucherov didn’t add much hope. This feeling disappeared immediately after Game 1 of the first round against the Florida Panthers. The level of confidence increased from round to round, and even Game 7 against the New York Islanders felt normal: it didn't feel to me for a moment that it could have gone the different way.

So, how it was for you, fellow Lightning fans?

Lightning Links

Tampa Bay’s recent sports accomplishments have been recognized on the highest level.

The Lightning’s players are not holding back in their public comments anymore.

Mathieu Joseph with a justified question.

Nikita Kucherov has signed a contract with Bud Light after his memorable press conference

Alex Killorn expects to be completely healthy in three weeks and will be ready by the time training camps start.

Nikita Kucherov confirmed that he was playing with a fractured rib after Scott Mayfield’s cross check in semifinals and went to Tampa to receive medical care between Games 3 and 4 against the Montreal Canadiens.

A story about Ross Colton – a Lightning rookie, who scored a Stanley Cup clinching goal in his first NHL postseason [The Athletic, paid content]

Colton has been a revelation this season, with the fourth-round pick scoring on the second shift of his NHL debut and nine in his first 30 games, earning the “Ross the Boss” nickname from teammates. He’ll be even more important next year with the roster expected to change due to the salary-cap crunch. Colton already put himself into Lightning lore with this goal, and then poured beer on Rob and his father in the postgame celebration.

Winning the Cup twice in two years in a row is a very hard achievement, also given the condition in which the NHL players were in the two past seasons [Defector]

The two COVID seasons—and make no mistake, there were two—offered challenges to be faced by every team and overcome by few. In the bubble, there were teams that very clearly just wanted to go home and see their families. Through the grind of this compressed season, there were contenders that wilted or failed to maintain a barely sustainable level of focus. The Lightning, with the veteran savvy of a team that has earned its self-confidence, did not go all-out in either regular season, but were able to flip the switch when it counted. That ability to turn it on almost at will is a rare and valuable one. And it’s an ability that’s not god-given, but rather hard-won.

Apparently the boat parade was postponed to Monday because the Lightning’s owner Jeff Vinik went to be at his son’s wedding this weekend.