Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
This will be the year that the curse of winning the President’s Trophy will end. The Tampa Bay Lightning are dominant in every phase of the game from offense to defense to goaltending. There are keys to why Tampa will go all the way this season.
They have so much depth scoring and players on the squad that opposing teams never get a long break from extremely talented play. Even if a team can handle Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point, can they handle Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, etc? And don’t forget about dynamic defenseman Victor Hedman on the backend as well. There is a reason why Tampa dominated the whole season and there’s no reason for that not to continue in the playoffs, especially with the next key to their upcoming success. They have the ability to beat you with speed, finesse, dynamic playmaking, and even play physical at times. If a team is able to generate any kind of consistent pressure on Tampa, good luck getting past Andrei Vasilevsky.
Tampa is loaded with veteran leadership and playoff experience on the majority of the roster. Some of the players from the team that lost in the Cup Final to Chicago four years ago include Stamkos, Kucherov, Palat, Johnson, Callahan, Hedman, Anton Stralman, Brayden Coburn, and Vasilevsky, who was backup for Ben Bishop at the time but played when Bishop got hurt. Not to mention Stamkos has been to the Eastern Conference Finals at least twice in his career.
Outside of them, there are also players such as Ryan McDonough and Dan Girardi. Tampa is not short on veteran leadership and knows what it takes to win this time of year. Tampa’s biggest test will be playing the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals, but I see them emerging victorious and ending the run for a repeat for Washington. Tampa will go through Boston to get there, but I see Washington as a slightly harder matchup for them to overcome than Boston but one they will overcome.
The curse of the President’s Trophy winners not winning the Stanley Cup will be over this year. The Apex of Stammer Time will come with him hoisting the cup at the end of the playoffs and Tampa Bay winning the cup for the first time since 2004 when they beat the Calgary Flames. I’ll continue saying what I’ve said for about half the season, just inscribe Tampa Bay on the cup already, they will get it done this year.