- Tampa Bay Lightning
- November 18, 2018
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional ice hockey team based in Tampa, Florida, often referred to as the Bolts or the Lightning. They joined the National Hockey League in 1992 and they are members of the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division. Their current owner is Jeffrey Vinik, while Steve Yzerman is the General Manager of the team. They managed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs ten times and finally won for the first time in the 2003 – 04 season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning colors are white and blue, whereas their logo is a stylized lightning bolt. Amelia Arena is the home arena of the team.
A promising debut
On October 1992, they went against all odds and defeated Chicago 7-3 in the first game, with 4 goals marked only by one player, Chris Kontos. However, they lost to the Blues and finished in last place with a record of 23–54–7, ending their debut season with just 53 points. The next few seasons kept being a total struggle for the Bolts, as they finished last once again in the Atlantic Division in 1993–94, with a record of 30–43–11 for 71 points.
The first playoffs and the biggest crowd in the NHL history
In their fourth season (1995-96), they finally made the playoffs, defeating by a narrow margin the New Jersey Devils, with a record of 38–33–12 with 88 points for the last spot in the Eastern Conference. They lost in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers, but their playoffs managed to gather a crowd of 28,183 fans in the ThunderDome arena, one of the largest indoor crowds in the NHL history. Following this highlight, the Lightning missed the playoffs for the next 6 consecutive years.
The first division title
With a reputable and talented team formed by players like Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Fredrik Modin and Nikolai Khabibulin; the Bolts finished the 2002-03 with a record of 36–25–16 for 93 points, and won their first division title (Southeast Division). In the course of the season they battled the Washington Capitals in six games during the first round, but lost the second round to the New Jersey Devils, who won the 2003 Stanley Cup.
The first Stanley Cup winning
Although the season they won their first division title was memorable, it turned out to be just a warm up for the following one. Their outstanding improvement continued in the 2003-04 season, when they topped the Eastern Conference with a record of 46–22–8–6 for 106 points, second best NHL 100-point season in franchise history. In the first round, they beat the New York Islanders in five games, followed by a four-game sweep of Montreal Canadiens. After a seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers, with the sixth game tied 3-3, Fredrik Modin scored the decisive goal with a 2-1, which brought them the winning of the Eastern Conference championship and sent them to their first Stanley Cup final.
On 7th June, 2004, in the final round, they played seven full games against the Calgary Flames. Ruslan Fedotenko scored the both goals which resulted in a 2-1 victory and the winning of the Stanley Cup. The 2003-04 season was the 87th regular season of the National Hockey League.
The second Stanley Cup final
Over the next years, the Tampa Bay Lightning managed to qualify for the playoffs just for a few more times, including in the most recent season, 2017-18. Steven Stamkos scored 20 points in the first 10 games and Nikita Kucherov scored 100 points during the regular season. The team finished the season with a record of 54–23–5 for 113 points and they won their first division title since the 2003-04 season, as well as a place in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Their odds seemed to be promising, as they eliminated the New Jersey Devils in the first round and the Boston Bruins in the second round; but in the last round of seven games, they were defeated and lost the title to the Washington Capitals, who won their first Stanley Cup.
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