Whoa. After the Blue Jackets swept the Lightning in 2019 I thought the core of this team was wasted talent. I have never been happier to eat crow, it's a weekly meal now. Someone (I think Justin G) said this is not the most talented playoff team of the last 3, but certainly is not lacking heart. There are no prima Donna's, and the experience to know how much work it takes to win the Cup. It's got to be considered an edge.
The last 5 games of this run have been hard, and seen the Lightning look unusually overmatched for long stretches...but they managed to reverse the script and have their own blow out, so it's not been complete domination. And the last 2 games have been very close affairs in the different barns, so we have a serious series now - both teams have lost on home ice.
Considering the eye test for what I have been able to watch, and the special teams disparity (especially over the first 4 games) it seems a bit surprising the Bolts are still standing. I have to chalk it up to the experience and heart, since I think we'd all agree we have not seen the best from this team. Had it ended last night I would have had the same thoughts as I will if it end tomorrow - this has been incredible, I'm glad they got the chance to defend the Cup in the finals rather than bow out earlier. This is 180 degrees from 2015, when I felt 11 wins would have hurt less than 14...of course winning the last 2 Cups salves a lot of hurt.
And yet I should not be surprised the Bolts are hanging on - the only prediction I would make before this series was it would go at least 6 game. I supposed I did not expect it to be an easy series for either team.