What a fantastic season it has been for the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey team. On Monday night they defeated the Arizona Cyotes 4-1 to capture the President’s Cup as the top team in the National Hockey Leagues. Sitting currently with 53 wins and 116 points they have dominated league play like no other NHL hockey team in the last two decades. You would have to go back to the Detroit Red Wings with 62 wins and of course the great Montreal Canadians 1976-77 who hold the record for most points in a single season of 132. There is no denying this hockey team is not only good , they are great! There are many reasons why I think the BOLTS will win Lord Stanley’s Cup – this year!
Let’s start with the current roster. Leading the pack is the Captain of the Team Steven Stamkos. He is a pure sniper when it comes to putting the puck in the net. And his slap shot has been clocked at over 100 mph. Next on deck is Russian Nikita Kucherov who currently is the leagues scoring leader at 117 points. With a name like Brandon Point how can you not rack up the points. He currently is ninth in NHL scoring. Turning to the defense, the Lightning probably have the best defensive corp in all of hockey. They a big. They are fast. They are mobile. They deliver crushing hits. And they put up a wall against other teams’ forwards. The last line of defense of course is the Goal Tender. At six feet , three inches tall, Andrei Vasilevsky has the most wins in the league at 35 and second most shut outs at 6. He is an acrobat at times the way he can move laterally post to post. If you get a chance,watch on youtube some of his heroic saves. While the team is built to win it takes great coaching and John Cooper certainly has my vote for Coach of the Year.
No Pro Sports team can be successful without a great ownership. Jeff Vinik who bought the team in 2010 has built a class organization. He has surrounded himself with exceptional talent from top to bottom, inside the arena and out. One of the shrewdest moves the organization made was hiring Steve Yzerman in May 2010. Yzerman was a Hall of Fame hockey player with the Detroit Red Wings having played 23 years and capturing three Stanley Cups. He is responsible for building Tampa Bay Lightning into a perrennial contender year in and year out. He stepped down in early September of last year to be closer at home with his young family. His contribution to the Bolts hockey team has been nothing short of spectacular. He will be missed at the palace they call Amalie.
The Amalie Arena in the heart of Tampa Bay is one of my favorites. I am Canadian and it gets damn cold here during the winter months. I have to say it is a pure treat to go to a hockey arena that has outdoor movie screen, surrounded by Palm Trees serving cold beer. Now that’s my kind of sports entertainment. Seriously, this is a great sports facility and the fan base that support the team is second to none.
The playoffs are just around the corner and the excitement is building throughout the tri-city area of Tampa, St. Petersburgh and Clearwater. The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize. I cannot say with certainty the Lightning will go all the way. But I will say, this is one of the BEST Hockey Teams in the world! They are indeed a BOLT TO THE NHL.