Tampa Bay Lightning defeat Dallas Stars for 2020 Stanley Cup

Steven+Stamkos%2C+captain%2C+powered+the+Lightning+through+his+leadership+while+he+was+unable+to+play.

Photos by Lisa Gansky

Steven Stamkos, captain, powered the Lightning through his leadership while he was unable to play.

Ryan Silver, Assistant Sports Editor

Despite tying the NHL record with 62 wins in the 2018-19 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning collapsed in the first round of the playoffs, getting swept by the eight seed Columbus Blue Jackets. However, they put together a major turnaround in 2020, defeating the Dallas Stars 4-2 in the best-of-seven series to win the Stanley Cup in the Toronto bubble. Defenseman Victor Hedman came home with the Conn Smith trophy as the playoffs MVP. Hedman propelled the team with 10 goals, the third most ever by a defenseman in the playoffs.

“It’s going to be in history. Our grandkids can look at the Stanley Cup and see our names,” said Hedman via ESPN. 

This year was just the second title in franchise history for Tampa Bay since joining the league in 1992. They played without captain Steven Stamkos for a majority of the playoffs, although he did score a goal on his only shot during a game 3 win over the Stars. Stamkos was forced out of competition due to a lower back injury, but opted to stay in the Toronto bubble and support the team rather than see injury specialists outside of the bubble.

Tampa Bay sat in second place in the Eastern conference before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. They got back to work in the restart, and secured a first round rematch against the Blue Jackets, who had ended their record season in 2019. They would not be stopped this year, winning the series four games to one. The Lightning followed this with a 4-1 series win over the Boston Bruins and a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders before their eventual victory in the Stanley Cup Finals.  

“Once you have a good enough team to get into the playoffs, it comes down to who is going to find a way,” said Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois via ESPN.

Similarly to the NBA’s Orlando location, the NHL held their restart in two separate bubbles. The first two rounds of the Eastern conference playoffs were played in Toronto, and the Western conference playoffs, conference finals and Stanley Cup finals were played in Edmonton. This brought a new dynamic to the sport, and eliminated a home field advantage as no fans were in the stands. 

“The fans are a big part of the game and make it more fun to watch, but I think everybody was just happy to see them able to finish the season,” said Addy Gilpatrick, senior.