Rick Bowness came ever so close to coaching his first NHL champion. (Michael Miller)
It’s been several days since the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up the second championship in franchise history. It’s high time to offer some observations from an entertaining series.
When Steven Stamkos skated around the ice with the Stanley Cup on Monday night after the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped things up, he became the first Cup winning captain since 1968 to not play in the clinching game.
After he set a career high in goals in 2018-19, we actually anticipated that Stamkos could reach 100 points for the first time, but injury and the truncated schedule took care of that. He slowed down in November, but was certainly playing well enough before he hurt his core muscle (30 points in his last 22 games) to have possibly made a run at the century mark. The injury required surgery in March and Stamkos didn’t get back onto the ice until Game Three of the Finals, playing under three minutes before aggravating the injury and being forced to watch the rest of the series from the sidelines.
He wasn’t as big a weapon on the power play this season, scoring just 10 times, but his overall ice time was up a smidge. Stamkos also enjoyed his best season ever from a faceoff winning percentage and should remain a decent second round pick in Fantasy hockey next season.
- Over the last 31 years (straddling five decades!), Rick Bowness has coached six different teams for varying lengths of time, but this season marked just his second time at the helm of a playoff team — and first since 1991-92. That has to be a record for longest time between playoff appearances for a head coach, right? At any rate, Bowness took a Dallas team that looked severely outmatched in the round robin and one that struggled to put pucks in the net all season to within two wins of a Stanley Cup victory. After guiding the Stars to their first final since 2000, he’s likely to lose the “interim” tag he’s been wearing since taking over for Jim Montgomery in December. And why not? Clearly, even at his age, Bowness is able to talk to everyone at once (see video below).
- Seeking the main reason Dallas couldn’t beat the Lightning? Struggles on the penalty kill. In the two games Dallas won, it limited the Lightning to four power play chances and killed them all. In all four losses, however, the Stars allowed Tampa Bay to score at least once with the man advantage, with the Lightning going a ridiculous 7-for-15 overall in those games. It was universally expected that the teams that shook off the rust on their PP the quickest would likely go far in the playoffs. Here’s exhibit A of how important power play execution is in a tight series — especially under these unique circumstances.
- Of course, it helps that Brayden Point was playing out of his mind in the postseason. The last time this dude was available on the wire he was a rookie, and already capturing our attention. Since then, he’s gotten better and better, topping out at 92 points in 2018-19. After that, Point’s mere 64 points in 66 games this season almost seemed like a disappointment. Well, he sure made up for that in the playoffs, going off for a whopping 33 points in 23 games. Consider Point a solid third round pick in Fantasy drafts next season.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
To this day, Ludwig van Beethoven remains one of the most revered composers in Western musical history. Here is one of his signature pieces, “Moonlight Sonata First Movement,” being performed by a violinist who was clearly drugged beforehand.