TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On Wednesday, the puck drops on a third-straight Stanley Cup Final for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
They are just four wins away from an historic three-peat, which hasn’t been done since the New York Islanders did it four decades ago. They actually won four-straight from 1980 to 1983.
“I don’t think you get this far unless there’s a belief, a want, a drive to be better,” Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper said. “One of the things that we talked about, not only this year but the year before, was why other teams don’t get back there. Like why is it so rare that another team can’t get back? Is it just enough that you got your name on the Cup? You exhale and it’s okay?”
For this team, one or even two isn’t enough.
“Why not keep going? That’s been a big thing for [us] is putting our stamp in history,” Cooper said.
The drive and the hunger to win another is something the team has been vocal about along the way. Not only winning a third for their core group, but also winning a first for some of their new teammates who haven’t won one yet.
“We’ve kind of embraced the challenge after the first one of trying to win back-to-back,” Lightning forward and captain Steven Stamkos said. “There’s no denying we want to win a Stanley Cup again. I’ve talked about that feeling that you have when you win it. It’s the best feeling you could ever have as an athlete and it motivates you even more. But there’s still some guys like I said that we’re working just as hard to get them a Cup as well on our team.”
“Once you win once or twice, you like that feeling,” Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov said. “You get hungry and you want to do it again at some point. We’ve been fortunate to have such a good team, good goalies and good coaching staff. The coaches have shown the way and players follow them. We definitely—everybody in that room—wants to win again. It’s something that would be special and not many teams have done it before.
Game one between the Lightning and Avalanche is Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. in Denver.
BRAYDEN POINT INJURY UPDATE:
Cooper said Tuesday that “there’s a chance” Point will play in game one.
“He felt pretty good today,” Cooper said. “We’ll see how he responds tomorrow. But things are leaning towards him playing, and if it’s not tomorrow, [we’re] really anticipating game two.”
Point suffered a lower body injury in game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14. He hasn’t played since.