Are you a Tampa guru? Be heard and share your experiences by becoming an 813area.com Contributor. Learn More!
Are you a local in the Tampa area? Join your community and Get Connected with others in your area. Join FREE!
"When you get this deep into a series, seven games, all these players know each other by heart. Now it really comes down to a little bit of will. You have to will yourself to this moment. Both teams have done this so far. I do like the fact that there will be 19,000 people helping us, willing us to victory." -- Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.
Tampa Bay...the Lightning need you now more than ever before.
We told you that this wasn't going to be easy. We told you the Washington Capitals weren't a joke. We told you that they were bigger, faster, stronger and tougher than any Bolts opponent in the playoffs thus far.
We also said the Bolts were going to win in six, but heck if they win in seven are YOU going to complain? Of course not.
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final will be played Wednesday at Amalie Arena with the puck scheduled to drop around 8:20 p.m.
The Lightning have had some good moments in Game 7s.
...and some disappointing moments
...but for the first time since 2004 the road to the Stanley Cup goes through us.
The series (in a nutshell)
It's been a series is momentum shifts and swings. The Capitals came out the gate like wildfire in Game 1 and won 4-2. We didn't think much of it because the Lightning always seemed to bounce back with a strong Game 2 performance...except they didn't and things began to unravel with a 6-2 loss.
The Lightning were down and out heading to D.C. and needed to split games in the Capital One Center just to get the series back to the bay. Our Bolts played their best game of the series in a 4-2 win in Game 3 and then got a late third-period game-winner from Alex Killorn and 36 saves from Mr. Vezina himself, Andrei Vasilevskiy to secure another 4-2 win in Game 4.
Back home with renewed life in Game 5 and we get a goal from Cedric Paquette 19 seconds in with Palat and Callahan adding to the total making it 3-0 before the Capitals could breathe. Washington rallied to score two but luckily three is still more than two and the Bolts won 3-2 to go up 3-2. Game 6 was an albatross. Spit happens and so do 3-0 Capitals victories. It was the first time Washington beat the Lightning at home in the playoffs in eight tries.
Vasilevskiy has been a beast with back-to-back 36-save games in Washington and a tough 28-save game in Game 5. He was easily the best player wearing a Lightning uniform in Game 6 but had zero help from his teammates.
The power play has been fairly good too. Something like 6-for-16 and any time you are hovering around 35% on power-play conversions you are doing a damn good job.
Team can't win on goalie and power play alone however. We need more from our guys, especially Nikita Kucherov, who has just one goal in the series (although he rang one off the crossbar in Game 6).
Washington has been awfully feisty all series. They hit and they play big. Alex Ovechkin has brought a lot of energy but the Lightning have in general kept from getting the one big goal. But guys like Brett Connolly and Devante Pelly-Smith have been a real pain.
And Braden Holtby ain't that good, but he's good enough to shut you out if you don't get any shots on goal or significant scoring chances. The more the Lightning shoot, the better chance they have of scoring.
The bottom line
19 guys will be on the ice Wednesday with 19,000+ cheering them wildly. Everyone feeds off each other and we all win together. There's no doubt that we want the Cup and this is the team to do it.
"We have the best fans, so we're excited. We're going to feed off of their energy. We'll hopefully have the same kind of start we had in Game 5, play for a full 60. After we scored our third one in Game 5, we kind of sat back a little bit. We know how to play with the lead. We know how to play from behind. For us, that's all about focusing on what we control, and that's the next shift. Like I said earlier, we need everyone to have their best game." Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman