By: Andy Palm, Columnist
It wasn’t what we’re used to seeing, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been played and we’ve come down to the final two teams. Despite being played without fans and in bubbles, the Stanley Cup Playoffs were just as exciting as always.
The Dallas Stars will be representing the Western Conference while the Tampa Bay Lightning will represent the East. It was somewhat expected for Tampa to be in this position, Dallas; not so much.
The Stars, although a talented and veteran team, never really was looked at as a legit contender. Pretty much until the point where winger Denis Gurianov put the overtime game-winning goal in the back of the net to secure Game 5, and clinch a Stanley Cup final berth.
Dallas came into the bubble and turned some heads. The road to the Cup was not easy for them. Going through Calgary, Colorado and then finally beating Vegas to get their way to the final. All three teams are very talented, and widely viewed as better teams than Dallas.
The key for the Stars is veteran leadership. They brought in former San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski and veteran Anaheim Ducks all-Star Corey Perry in the off-season. Adding this to an already fairly grizzled group that includes Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
This may have been what pushed Dallas to be able to take the next step. Veteran leadership goes a long way in the playoffs, and Dallas is a perfect example of this.
They also got incredible goaltending from usual backup Anton Khudobin, who allowed no more than three goals in any game in the series. Another pivotal piece of a Stanley Cup run, having a goalie who stands on his head for a few games.
The Stars have another huge task on their hands in the shape of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa is by far the most talented team in the NHL, on paper.
All four lines of the Lightning can do damage, not to mention they have a plethora of defensemen who can hurt you in the offensive zone as well. The Lightning have been forced to go through these playoffs without their longtime All-star captain Steven Stamkos.
Although Stamkos didn’t play in Game 1 of the Final, he could return at some point in the series. Add him back into the arsenal of weapons already at Head Coach Jon Cooper’s disposal, it’s hard to see Dallas coming out on top.
Even without Stamkos, the Lightning should be able to beat Dallas and take the 2020 Stanley Cup title. They’re better in every aspect.
The problem with Tampa is that they have been here before, where people expect them to win because of their supreme talent. We saw a similar situation with the Washington Capitals until they were finally able to pull through. Is this the year that the Tampa Bay Lightning get the massive cup-sized monkey off their backs? I believe it is.