TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking like they’re dominating selves going for their third Stanley Cup in a row. The Bolts have dominated the Florida Panthers after getting by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round but Bolts head coach Jon Cooper isn’t interested in any praise, right now.
“We’re damn pleased on what’s going on here, but we haven’t done anything yet,” Cooper said. “There’s nothing that we can hang our hat on. We’re inching our way closer, but it’s far from over.”
The Bolts are a talented, experienced, confident bunch, led by stars Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and All-World goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
In Game 3 of the Panthers series Vasilevskiy bailed out his defense with some big saves on the penalty kill. Cooper says that’s great but he tends to look at it another way.
“Obviously, there’s the excitement that he makes the save, but there’s a little bit of why are we putting ourselves in those situations to give up those chances. I think those go overlooked through the game because I think we eventually get the lead. But who knows where that is, if any of those goals go in.”
The Lightning are leading all NHL teams in blocked shots in the playoffs. Once again, Cooper deflects the praise.
“It’s some of the little things you have to do to win,” Cooper said. “But I guess, if you’re blocking so many shots, it means you don’t have the puck as much. so I’d like to kind of change that a bit.”
It might just be a way of not letting his players let this success get to their heads. The Bolts have dominated a Florida Panthers team that won the Presidents Cup. The Lightning didn’t miss a beat after losing No.1 center Brayden Point. You get the feeling that Cooper isn’t going to relax and celebrate until they hoist that Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year.