(WFLA) The Stanley Cup playoffs have reached the conference final stage but while the sting is still strong for players of the Tampa Bay Lightning, several members of the team are set to hit the ice beginning Friday with world glory on their minds.
The IIHF World Hockey Championship gets underway in Slovakia and seven Lightning players will represent three different countries. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Forward Nikita Kucherov and Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev will suit up for a star-loaded Russian team that also features the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Los Angeles Kings Ilya Kovalchuk and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin.
Lightning players that are noticeably absent from their respective national teams: Defensemen Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman of Sweden and Steven Stamkos of Canada.
The last time the Lightning did not make a deep playoff run was in 2017. That year, Lightning coach Jon Cooper led Canada to the gold medal game, inspired by a relentless young Lightning player, Brayden Point. The Canadians lost to Sweden in a shootout on a day that the Lightning’s Victor Hedman played more than 31 minutes.
This year’s tournament drops the puck at 10:00 am ET with Finland taking on Canada. The United States plays the host country, Slovakia, at 2:00 pm ET. Both games will be broadcast live on NHL Network. After group play, the Quarterfinal round begins Thursday, May 23rd, followed by the Semifinal games on Saturday, May 25th. The gold and bronze medal games will take place on Sunday, May 26th. All of the elimination games will air on NHL Network.
Lightning players in the IIHF World Championships include: