The NHL has it’s worst-case TV ratings scenario handed to it on a platter: an entirely southern Stanley Cup Final. We hope to prove them wrong, however, and show them exactly how strong Southern hockey fandom can be. After the Tampa Bay Lightning won a 2-1 match in overtime in game six off an Anthony Cirelli goal, they are GOING TO THE CUP FINAL to meet the Dallas Stars.
Here is the schedule. Tampa ended higher in seeding, and so is the defacto “home team” for bubble playoffs. Please note we have a Friday-Saturday back to back to avoid football. Will we actually see Curtis McElhinney on the ice in Game 4? (Yeah, probably not.)
Here’s ESPN’s predictions for the Cup round.
As Brad Marchand of the Bruins summed it up last month (shortly before Tampa Bay knocked out Boston): “They have a bit of a different makeup now; they compete a lot harder. They are a lot more physical and, obviously, they have a ton of talent. They’re very fast, have a great goalie, they have everything.”
Just in case you were concerned about the team touching the Prince of Wales:
The last three times a team HAS touched the Prince of Wales Trophy, they won the Cup.
Crosby did so in 2016 and 2017 when the Penguins won, and Ovechkin touched it and used it as a centerpiece in his dining room before the Capitals won in 2018.
Lightning touched it tonight.
— David Satriano (@davidsatriano) September 18, 2020
Then things got crazy.
Anthony Cirelli scored the biggest goal of his young career. Barclay Goodrow fought through a check and controlled the puck behind the Islanders net and threw it in front. CIrelli fought and pushed the puck to the far side, off the post, and into the net behind Varly. A pause….longer….then the ref pointed at the goal.
Barclay Goodrow with a heck of a play behind the net to get the puck to Anthony Cirelli down low for a one-timer. Varlamov almost got this one too, but Cirelli’s shot was too good. #Bolts are going to the Stanley Cup Final for the 3rd time in franchise history. #TBLvsNYI
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) September 18, 2020
Here’s one angle on the Cirelli goal:
Another angle on the goal:
Question, if he’s not traded due to cap crunch, is Cirelli the next captain of the Lightning after Steven Stamkos retires?
Anthony Cirelli has scored:
– 2015 Memorial Cup overtime clinching goal
– 2017 OHL Championship overtime clinching goal
– 2020 Eastern Conference championship overtime clinching goal
— ♀️Lauren Kelly ♀️ (@laurkelly24) September 18, 2020
2015 Memorial Cup winning goal for the Oshawa Generals.
Last goal ever at Le Colisee in Quebec City.
Sends Tampa to the Stanley Cup final tonight.
Who is – Anthony Cirelli.
— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) September 18, 2020
This Oshawa Generals scout thinks so:
Right after Anthony Cirelli scored double OT winning goal in #ECF, I got a text from @Oshawa_Generals scout who got him walk-on tryout, before he became Memorial Cup hero + now Selke-caliber center: “The kid is a winner.” His backstory is one for the ages https://t.co/phBiCDO1iU
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) September 18, 2020
And here’s the celebration:
Here’s the perspective from the losing side. Lightning 2, Islanders 1 (OT): Fluky Cirelli goal sends Isles home in Game 6 [Lighthousehockey]
Not scoring on that power play proved to be fatal, as not long after it ended, the Lightning got a little bit of zone time. Barclay Goodrow had the puck behind the net and Cirelli, of course, sneaked away from Barzal to get open. He fired a shot past Varlamov that went off the post and rode the goal line without going in. But it rode all the way to Varlamov’s left skate, ticking off of it and just crossing over the goal line. Game and series.
The Lightning are the Eastern Conference Champions and going to the Stanley Cup Final. The Islanders, though, showed us something they, as a franchise, hadn’t done in way too long. Once again, what a run, and I’m so thankful for it.
“He got hurt real early in the last game, he played on adrenaline, got through it, and there was no way he could play [Thursday],” Trotz said. “And there’s going to be surgery involved.”
And Leo Komarov had the best news in the world to offset his team’s loss:
Emotional day , this afternoon I got my newborn son.. Really proud of how my wife handle this whole situation without me.. Our hockey journey did not the end the way we wanted it to, I can’t say enough how proud I am to have these guys as my teammates..1/2 pic.twitter.com/ZX6IUAiisX
— Leo Komarov (@LKomarov) September 18, 2020
OK back to our side.
I think I’ll end here today.
Y’all, we’re GOING TO THE CUP!