Amiable Alexis: Not Angry With Tampa Bay’s Playoff Exit
The Tampa Bay Lightning were outplayed and out coached against the Montreal Canadiens. Their prolific offense dried up, their defense was abysmal and their starting goaltender was injured before the playoffs even began. The Lightning were swept out of the postseason Tuesday night at the Bell Centre after an ugly series rife with questionable officiating and poor play by the young Tampa Bay team. We probably should be ticked off about how things played out in the conference quarterfinals. Now that it’s over, the overriding emotion that remains is one of pride. We’re not angry. We’re proud and we have good reason to be. (Photo/Susan Ferlita)
A large part of this season was spent reflecting on the 10 year anniversary of the Lightning’s only Stanley Cup in 2004. Whether it was articles, interviews or TV specials, one thing was brought up as an important step on the team’s way to victory. It wasn’t the incredible winning streak they opened the season with but the loss to the New Jersey Devils in the conference semi-finals the previous spring. It was the first time Tampa Bay made it out of the first round and they lost to the eventual Cup champions. That defeat opened their eyes as to the level of play and dedication required to win hockey’s ultimate prize.
There are some local sports media figures who view any season that doesn’t result in a championship as a failure. I have to respectfully disagree. “Adversity” is a word that was bandied about so frequently over the course of the Lightning’s season, it now borders on the cliche. That doesn’t lessen the fact that the Bolts lost their leading scorer for half the season, were plagued by injuries to key members of the team and had an ever growing cast of rookies as part of their roster. In spite of these things, this rag tag crew put together a good season when no one expected anything out of them.
That success didn’t continue into the playoffs but the general consensus from Lightning fans is a positive one. This is unusual for a fan base that is almost always convinced that the sky is falling. For the first time in a long time, we’re not just looking forward to the future. The future is here and set to pay huge dividends. Steve Yzerman has taken the time to build this team and replenish it from within the organization’s own system. This wasn’t a one and done scenario. Tampa Bay is set to be a good team for a long time to come.
It’s easy to feel a bit downtrodden as the exit interviews and injuries come out today. That’s perfectly normal. We’re sad to see our boys leave for the summer, but there’s an overriding feeling of hope among many fans. In spite of everything thrown their way this season, the Lightning did surprisingly well. Imagine what they will do when Ben Bishop and Steven Stamkos are 100%. Imagine what will happen when rookies Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson can apply their newly gained experience. The Bolts are just getting started. The rest of the league should start taking notice. Get used to the boys in Bolt blue. You’re going to be seeing a lot of them.
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