TAMPA, Fla. – Yes the Tampa Bay Lightning will get to work on a game plan to stop the high-powered Colorado Avalanche, but they need a minute to realize what they’ve accomplished. Captain Steven Stamkos scored 2 goals on the way to a clinching Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a 3-2 win over the NY Rangers.
“We deserved to win.” Stamkos said. That was the feeling we had from the puck drop. Just keep going. Our will is going to take over.”
Head Coach Jon Cooper isn’t one to look back. Cooper says he’s watched a lot of Colorado’s playoff games since the Avalanche were playing on opposite days of the Bolts games during the Conference Finals. But for Cooper, he just had to step back and reflect.
“You gotta look back at the players,” Cooper said. “I sit back and I’m just impressed. To come back and go for a third, I’m impressed. It’s probably not the greatest word to use, but I’m damn impressed by this group.”
The Lightning are trying to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cups since 1983. Yes, the Bolts are talented but Stamkos believes it’s more than that.
“I think it’s just belief in ourselves and belief in the work you put in,” Stamkos said. “Trust is the word. We trust every guy that goes over those boards to do his job. It’s the little things you do. It’s the defending. It’s the blocked shots. It’s not complaining about your role. That’s why this group is so special.”
So the Bolts will begin their quest for a three-peat in the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night in Denver. But before they go, Cooper wants to tell all, just how amazed even he is at what they are doing.
“To get there the first time was a dream come true,” Cooper said. “To get there a second time, the next year, was a dream too. There was no way we were going back. To go a third time is unbelievable.”
Games 1 and 2 are in Denver, Wednesday and Saturday. Bolts come back to Tampa for Game 3, Monday, June 20 at 8 pm.