THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING ARE EARNING THEMSELVES ADVANTAGES

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The first time the Tampa Bay Lightning received the Stanley Cup, Dave Andreychuk changed into the captain hoisting the chalice. Fifteen years later, Andreychuk is now VP of corporate and network affairs with the franchise – and he’d love to look the cutting-edge Lightning lifting the trophy this summer season. No doubt Tampa Bay has been the class of the NHL this season, jogging away with the Presidents’ Trophy race and as a minimum beginning a conversation on in which this version of the crew belongs within the pantheon of all-time exceptional squads in league history – but it’s going to all be for naught if it doesn’t lead to a name. But Andreychuk sees two blessings for his franchise heading into the playoffs and each fall under the umbrella of making plans: domestic-ice benefit and cargo control. When Tampa Bay received its first Cup, the Lightning went into the put up-season because of the pinnacle seed within the Eastern Conference, making certain them friendly Game 7s till the final. After two short series wins over the Islanders and Canadiens, the Bolts had a difficult-fought check against Philadelphia inside the conference very last, and that home ice got here is available. “We lose Game five at home, our backs are against the wall for Game 6,” Andreychuk recalled. “The Cup is within the building: to me, that becomes the most elegant sport I’ve ever been concerned in.

 

I had a front-row seat to peer guys lay it on the road. We win in double additional time. And again, we mentioned operating all 12 months longer to get a Game 7 at home.” Tampa gained that check, and as it might take place, they might also earn home ice inside the final against Calgary. This 12 months’ squad could have domestic ice right through to the very last, and that might show vital towards difficult, skilled squads such as Boston, Washington or Pittsburgh. Andreychuk additionally sees some very strategic planning in Tampa Bay when it comes to person ice time. He referred to that megastar defenseman Victor Hedman has seen his load significantly decreased this season and the numbers naked that out. Hedman has gone from 25: fifty-one consistent with the game final season (which changed into top-five in the NHL) to 22:44 this 12 months (setting him 39th basic). Hedman continues to be a first-rate participant, however that easing of responsibilities should have very fine ramifications in May and June. In the beyond two years, no forward on the Bolts has hit the 20-minute mark in common ice time; Nikita Kucherov has the heaviest load right now at 19:43, which continues to be very conceivable. This is a luxury afforded to the group with the aid of its intensity; the agreement with that instruct Jon Cooper can put in players including Erik Cernak or Anthony Cirelli will hypothetically help down the road while everyone is tapping that final bit of adrenaline out of their gadget. Because the Bolts understand this yr’s undertaking goes properly beyond regular season excellence. “Exactly,” Hedman said. “We’re having an exact year, but it’s simply a part of the method. It’s eighty-two video games to get prepared for the amusing stuff.” What wouldn’t be amusing? They are repeating remaining 12 months’ collapse when the excessive-octane group failed to score an aim in Games 6 and seven towards the eventual champs from Washington. But once more, it’s all a part of the process for a team on an undertaking. “They’re conflict-tested,” Andreychuk said. “Inside, they speak plenty approximately that; they’re an experienced crew. And we’ve seen it all 12 months; not a good deal fazes them. They have the expertise to understand they can come back and that they’ve achieved it several times. They know teams will come after them and it is going to be no exclusive in the playoffs. Mentally, this group is a lot stronger than they had been in the past.” And now it’s just a matter of proving it when the strain is at its apex. At the least, the Bolts have placed themselves within the excellent position feasible. The next step is execution.