The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the playoffs for the third season in a row.
Waiting around the corner for them is a familiar foe.
Following Boston’s 6-1 loss to Ottawa on Saturday opened the door for the Detroit Red Wings to secure third place in the Atlantic Division and an opening-round Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup against the Lightning, a reprisal of the two teams’ seven-game war last postseason.
Tampa Bay advanced to the Cup Final a year ago, but getting past the Red Wings in the First Round was, arguably, the Bolts’ greatest challenge during the run.
Last season’s series provided some of the most iconic moments in Tampa Bay Lightning playoff history:
- The Bolts rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final six minutes of Game 4, capped by Tyler Johnson’s overtime one-timer in front of a stunned, silenced Joe Louis Arena crowd.
- Overmatching the Red Wings 5-2 in a do-or-die Game 6 on the road when the Lightning were on the brink of elimination, spoiling the party for the Detroit fan base.
- Braydon Coburn’s knuckling long-distance one-timer in the third period of Game 7 that proved to be the game-winner and the final dagger in the formidable Wings.
- Ben Bishop getting the shutout in that pivotal Game 7 to prove his playoff readiness.
The two teams have developed quite the rivalry over the last few seasons, really ever since Detroit sports legend Steve Yzerman took over as general manager of the Lightning.
That rivalry will add another chapter in the coming days.
Last year’s series packed a season’s worth of drama into seven hotly-contested games.
This go-round promises more of the same.
It’s the Lightning and the Red Wings in the playoffs one more time.
Would either fan base want it any other way?