Belief, Trust Help Lift Tampa Bay Lightning To Third Straight Stanley Cup Final

As the Tampa Bay Lightning have grown together, so has the level of confidence in each and every player who pulls on the jersey.

No matter if the player in question is a future hall of famer or a trade deadline acquisition previously lacking playoff experience, there is an unwavering confidence that the job will get done.

“It's belief in ourselves and belief in the work you put in, the systems, the way the coaches prepare you as players,” said Steven Stamkos, following his team’s Eastern Conference-clinching victory over the New York Rangers, in which he scored twice in a 2-1 win.

“But, trust. That’s the word. We trust every guy that goes over the boards to do his job. Whether you score a goal or not, it’s the little things that you do. It’s the defending, the blocked shots, the sacrifice, not complaining about your role. Just going out and playing as hard as you can for the next guy that sits beside you in the locker room. That’s why this group is so special.”

It is a group, led by Stamkos, Tampa Bay’s 32-year-old captain, that has won 11 consecutive series. It is a group that will be going for a third straight Stanley Cup when the puck drops on the final round in Denver starting Wednesday night.

It is such trust and belief in every guy in the room that helped propel the Lightning back from a 3-2 deficit in the first round against Toronto, a sweep of President’s Trophy-winning Florida, and four straight wins over the Rangers after opening the series in a size-two hole.

It is also about how the Lightning have been getting it done when victory is most in need. They allowed one goal in each of the last three games in the conference final.

They allowed no more than one goal in each of their last nine series-clinchers, dating to the 2020 Edmonton bubble. It takes a dedicated group, from top to bottom, to make that happen.

“This group is pretty amazing, pretty special,” said Stamkos, who has nine goals this playoff year and 41 in his career. 

“Each guy is just part of the process and that’s what makes this team so special, tight and unique. We don’t care how it gets done, it just needs to get done.”

That wasn’t always happening. Sure, the Lightning went far on multiple occasions. However, completing the task seemed too high of hurdle to scale. They went to the Cup final in 2015, losing in six games to the Blackhawks.