A look at some of the storylines surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning ahead of their third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Stanley Cup Final Experience
* The Lightning return to the Stanley Cup Final with 15 players who won the championship with the team last year, including 13 who also won with the club in 2020 (Erik Cernak, Anthony Cirelli, Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Pat Maroon, Ryan McDonagh, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Jan Rutta, Mikhail Sergachev, Steven Stamkos & Andrei Vasilevskiy). The two players who only won in 2021 are Ross Colton and Cal Foote, while Zach Bogosian won only in 2020.
* Five Lightning players who have dressed this postseason are in search of their first Stanley Cup: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Brian Elliott, Brandon Hagel, Riley Nash and Nicholas Paul. Of those players, only Bellemare (2018 w/ VGK) has skated in a Final. The only Cup winner on Tampa Bay’s roster without a game played in the Final is Cal Foote.
* Pat Maroon (18 GP), Victor Hedman (17 GP), Nikita Kucherov (17 GP), Ondrej Palat (17 GP), Ryan McDonagh (16 GP), Corey Perry (16 GP), Alex Killorn (13 GP) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (13 GP) can all reach 20 career games in the Final. The only active players to appear in 20 or more contests are Sidney Crosby (25 GP), Evgeni Malkin (25 GP), Patrice Bergeron (20 GP), Zdeno Chara (20 GP) and Brad Marchand (20 GP).
* Pat Maroon (2019 STL, 2020 TBL, 2021 TBL) can become the fourth player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in four straight seasons while claiming titles with multiple clubs – only Ed Litzenberger (4x; 1961 CHI, 1962 TOR, 1963 TOR, 1964 TOR), Ab McDonald (4x; 1958 MTL, 1959 MTL, 1960 MTL, 1961 CHI) and Eddie Gerard (4x; 1920 SEN, 1921 SEN, 1922 TSP, 1923 SEN) have done so. The last time an NHL player won four straight titles, regardless of circumstance, was during the Islanders’ stretch when 16 players claimed all four Cups (15 skaters & 1 goaltender).
* Corey Perry, who won his only Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, can become the third player in NHL history to go 15-plus years between Cup wins. Only Chris Chelios (1986 MTL & 2002 DET) and Mark Recchi (1991 PIT & 2006 CAR) have done so.
* Corey Perry (2007 w/ ANA, 2020 w/ DAL, 2021 w/ MTL) is set to become the seventh player in NHL history to dress in at least one Final game for four different franchises, following Al Arbour, Paul Coffey, Ab McDonald, Larry Hillman, Darryl Sydor and Martin Gelinas. Perry can also become the second player in NHL history to win a Cup with a team after losing to them in the prior Final – he would join Billy Carroll, who played for the Islanders in 1984 against the Oilers before joining Edmonton and winning with them in 1985.
2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs – Team Storylines
* The Lightning will aim to become the fourth franchise in NHL history – and first in nearly 40 years – to claim at least three consecutive Stanley Cup wins. The last club to do so was the Islanders dynasty (4x: 1980–1983), and before them the Canadiens (5x: 1956–1960; 4x: 1976–1979) and Maple Leafs (3x: 1947–1949; 3x: 1962–1964) each did so twice.
* The Lightning can become the third franchise in NHL history to win at least 12 consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs series, with the others being the Islanders (19 from 1980–1984) and Canadiens (13 from 1976–1980).
* The Lightning will play in the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in franchise history (2004, 2015, 2020, 2021 & 2022), by far the most among clubs to join the NHL since the 1990s. Only three non-Original Six franchises have more appearances in the championship series: the Flyers (8x), Oilers (7x) and Penguins (6x).
* Tampa Bay can become the first franchise since Pittsburgh to win four Stanley Cups through its first five appearances in the Final. The Penguins’ first five Final berths came in 1991, 1992, 2008, 2009 and 2016, with their only loss coming in 2008.
* The Lightning have relied on late-game heroics throughout the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, receiving three winning goals in the final two minutes of regulation (58:10 in Game 5 of CF, 59:18 in Game 3 of CF & 59:56 in Game 2 of R2). They became the second team in NHL history with three game-winning goals during the final 2:00 minutes of regulation in a single postseason, joining the 1995 Devils.
* Tampa Bay enters the Final with a 7-1 mark at AMALIE Arena this postseason, including a franchise-record seven straight wins.
2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs – Player Storylines
* Nikita Kucherov, who leads the Lightning with 7-16—23 (17 GP) in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, enters the Stanley Cup Final with the opportunity to become the fourth player in NHL history with 25-plus points in three consecutive postseasons. He would join Wayne Gretzky (1983–1985), Mike Bossy (1981–1983) and Bryan Trottier (1980–1982).
* Kucherov has posted five or more points in each of the Lightning’s last two Final series (2020: 1-7—8 in 6 GP & 2021: 3-2—5 in 5 GP). Should he do so against the Avalanche, Kucherov would become the ninth player in NHL history to post five-plus points in the Final over three consecutive years – he would join Bernie Geoffrion (6x: 1955–1960), Mike Bossy (3x: 1980–1982), Denis Potvin (3x: 1980–1982), Bryan Trottier (3x: 1980–1982), Guy Lafleur (3x: 1976–1978), Jean Beliveau (3x: 1965–1967), Dickie Moore (3x: 1958–1960) and Doug Harvey (3x: 1957–1959).
* Steven Stamkos can become the fifth player in NHL history to captain a team to at least three consecutive Stanley Cup wins, a list that currently features Denis Potvin of the Islanders (4x; 1980–1983), Yvan Cournoyer of the Canadiens (4x; 1976–1979), George Armstrong of the Maple Leafs (3x; 1962–1964) and Maurice Richard of the Canadiens (4x; 1957–1960).
* Ondrej Palat has made a habit out of potting big goals for the Lightning this postseason including two winners during the final 2:00 of regulation, the most by an NHL player in a single playoff year. His 11 career game winners in the Stanley Cup Playoffs trail only Joe Pavelski (14) and Evgeni Malkin (13) for the most among all active players.
* Andrei Vasilevskiy can become the 10th goaltender in NHL history to win three consecutive Stanley Cups – he would join Jacques Plante (5 w/ MTL), Ken Dryden (4 w/ MTL), Michel Larocque (4 w/ MTL), Billy Smith (4 w/ NYI), Turk Broda (3 w/ TOR), Charlie Hodge (3 w/ MTL), Johnny Bower (3 w/ TOR), Don Simmons (3 w/ TOR) and Roland Melanson (3 w/ NYI). Of those goaltenders, only Plante, Dryden and Smith appeared in all their team’s postseason games throughout their first three consecutive wins (as Vasilevskiy has done to date).
* Andrei Vasilevskiy, 27, can become the 10th goaltender in NHL history to win three Stanley Cups before age 30. He would join Grant Fuhr (5 w/ EDM), Charlie Hodge (4 w/ MTL), Jacques Plante (4 w/ MTL), Ken Dryden (4 w/ MTL), Michel Larocque (4 w/ MTL), Andy Moog (3 w/ EDM), Rogie Vachon (3 w/ MTL), Roland Melanson (3 w/ NYI) and Terry Sawchuk (3 w/ DET).
Matchup vs. Colorado Avalanche
* The Lightning and Avalanche, who have never met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, rank first and third, respectively, in regular-season wins over the past four campaigns. Tampa Bay holds an all-time series record of 11-6 when facing against an opponent for the first time in a best-of-seven.
* The Lightning have made the Stanley Cup Final four previous times in franchise history, but 2022 will mark the first instance of Tampa Bay facing the top-seeded team from the opposite conference.The Lightning are 4-0 in their last four head-to-head series against the No. 1-ranked club from a conference, including a four-game sweep versus the Panthers in the 2022 Second Round (also 4-1 W vs. BOS in 2020 R2, 4-3 W vs. NYR in 2015 CF & 4-0 W vs. WSH in 2011 CSF).
* The Lightning will become the ninth NHL team to face the No. 1-ranked club from each conference during a single postseason (since 1974-75 when conferences were introduced) and first since 2013, when the Bruins swept the Penguins in the Conference Finals before falling to the Blackhawks in the Final.
* Victor Hedman and Cale Makar are set to square off in what will be the sixth Final during the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) to include Norris Trophy finalists from that season on either side. The others over that span were in 2001 (Ray Bourque, COLvs. Scott Stevens, NJD), 1989 (Al MacInnis, CGY vs. Chris Chelios, MTL), 1978 (Larry Robinson, MTL vs. Brad Park, BOS), 1973 (Guy Lapointe, MTL vs. Bill White, CHI) and 1972 (Bobby Orr, BOS vs. Park, NYR).
* Cal Foote was born in Denver and played minor hockey with the AAA Colorado Thunderbirds. Cal’s father, Adam Foote, played 1,137 career games with the Avalanche/Nordiques (967 regular season & 170 playoffs), capturing both Stanley Cups with the franchise and donning the “C” for two seasons from 2009-10 to 2010-11.