Tampa, Fla. (WFLA) – This could be the most intense series in Lightning’s 2021 Stanley Cup title race, and now Tampa Bay is set to face the Florida Panthers after this season in a second round match.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said: “Florida is a hellish team. “We watched them all year. We had some great battles with them. I think people – especially in Florida – begged the two teams to be rivals and move on. I think last year a lot of people said it could be the playoff series. They’ve retooled their team and put some big names in it and it’s going to be interesting. They are happy to play together. It’s competitive as hell and I think it’s really good for hockey. ”
Last season, the Bolts and Panthers met in the first round, with Tampa Bay winning a nasty six-game streak. It took place almost a year ago until today, running from May 16, 2021 to May 26, 2021. Similar to last year’s post-season confrontation, the Panthers have the home band once again. , as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the 2022 Presidents Cup Winner.
“That’s when things get interesting and the competition is born — when you play teams multiple times in the knockout stages,” Lightning striker Steven Stamkos said of the rematch against the Panthers. “Our department this year has been crazy. You beat a team like Toronto who are top in the league and you have the best team of the current season in the second round… It was a horrible streak last year in the first round. ”
“We saw them a lot last year,” said Lightning striker Ross Colton. “I think whenever we play against them, it’s obviously a tough test. Watching them play against the Capitals, I think the series could have gone either way. We know what to expect from them. It will probably be a grind. I think right now we just want to enjoy this moment but come [Sunday] We had to get right back to work and knew they were going to have some bad blood from what happened last year, so we couldn’t just ignore them. ”
The Bolts and Panthers have met four times this regular season, with each team winning twice:
- 10/19/21 (Tampa) Florida 4, Lightning 1
- 11/13/21 (Tampa) Lightning 3, Panthers 2 (F/OT)
- 30/12/21 (Dawn) Florida 9, Lightning 3
- 4/24/22 (Dawn) Lightning 8, Panthers 4
For Lightning, reaching the second round meant their hopes of a tank top were still intact. The desire to win a third Stanley Cup in a row — being on the brink of greatness as Cooper said it — is what drives this group.
“What we’ve achieved in the last two seasons is utopian but when you have these opportunities, you don’t want to waste these opportunities,” Lightning guard Victor Hedman said. “We still have a great team (and) the best goalkeeper in the league. We have new arrivals — Nicky Paul arrived, scored two goals (Saturday), (Brandon Hagel), Ross (Colton) was with us last year but different people. Like we said, we’ve been tested in real combat and even though we won two Cups in a row, it doesn’t matter. We are not easy. I’ve been in this tournament long enough to know that these opportunities don’t come up too often and you have to take advantage of them when you get them. You have a team. You have the kind of group that we have. You cannot let it go to waste. Two more (Cups) are in the rearview mirror and we are looking forward to it. For us, one round is complete. Now we are looking forward to another great battle against our same state rivals. ”
Another part of their motivation, Stamkos says, is to win the Stanley Cup for newcomers who haven’t won — and of course more for those who have won it all before.
“Once you put that Bolts uniform on, we know what we’ve achieved in the last two years but it really is – it’s a new year,” Stamkos said. “It’s going to be harder than ever, as we’ve seen with this (Maple Leafs) series. That’s definitely on your mind but listen, we want to win with this group and this guy(s) and (this) is off to a good start. ”
The schedule of the Panthers- Lightning series has yet to be announced.
https://www.wfla.com/sports/tampa-bay-lightning/road-to-the-cup-lightning-panthers-poised-for-second-round-match-up/ Road to the Cup: Lightning, Panthers poised for second-round match-up