04 May 2011
I am completely surprised that the Lightning are still playing hockey in May. Watching them struggle to find their game at the end of the regular season, I feared that they would be handed a first round loss by the Pens. Going down 3-1 in Round 1 didn't help the confidence level either. But at least there were flashes of a good playoff team in Round 1.
Then the 8-2 win in the morning happened and the Lightning have not stopped rolling since. The 8-2 win was the turning point in the playoffs so far.
With each game from there on, the team just kept getting better and better. Players stepped up when they needed to.
St. Louis was a one tiny man army doing it all himself in the early Pens series while Stamkos was still trying to figure out how to deal with the fast pace. Then Lecavalier became a monster and was putting up the game winning goals left, right and center. Somehow Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore have become offensive threats (it just feels weird to type that) and Stamkos eventually found the back of the net. And our defense, they've done a much better job than anyone ever expected them to do. And of course, Roloson has been solid throughout the playoffs so far.
The way this team has come together just at the right time has been fantastic to see as a fan. To see the players really buy in to Guy Boucher's system and find a way to win against two tough teams.
I think the quote in my game preview from Knuble says it best:
"They are uncanny. When they want to get a goal it's like they just snap their fingers or hit a button. They just dial it up. You can see it. It's like they flip a switch. When they are down, it's just like they think, 'we know we are going to score.' I don't know what it is, it leaves you flabbergasted," -ESPN
People will say that it has been easy for the Lightning since the Pens were without Crosby and Malkin, and the Semin and Backstrom didn't show up for the Capitals, but you know what? Tough shit. I understand if fans want to use that as an excuse to explain why their team didn't beat us, that's fine, but I'm not going to use that as a reason why the Bolts won the past 7 games in a row.
The Bolts won because they worked hard. Harder than their opposition.
So we swept the Caps and now await our next opponent and the start of Round 3. This will give us some time to digest all of this, and let the players rest up some injuries that they have. But for the next few days, enjoy this. The feeling of your team rolling over your SE Division opponent.