The bubble has broken and the Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2019-20 Stanley Cup champions. On Monday, September 28, captain Steven Stamkos, Conn Smythe Trophy-winning defenceman Victor Hedman, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and the 52 other Bolts team members within the Edmonton hub city ‘bubble’ earned their right to lift Lord Stanley’s mug high in victory.
In Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, with the favoured Lightning up three-games-to-two over the Dallas Stars, the boys wearing white and blue showed the world just how powerful they really could be, shutting out the Central Division’s Stars 2-0 on goals from Brayden Point and Blake Coleman.
Point scored his playoff-leading 14th goal just 25 seconds into a first period Tampa Bay power play, collecting his own rebound and beating Anton Khudobin up high. Patrick Maroon then batted down a long Dallas breakout pass with a tremendous display of hand-eye control in the neutral zone, before setting up a two-on-one, with which Coleman made no mistake hammering a one-timer into the Stars’ net midway through the second period.
Two goals was all that the Lightning ended up needed on Monday, as the team relied on Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy’s solid goaltending to help shut down Dallas’ offence. The league’s win leader turned aside all 22 shots he faced in the game, earning the shutout even without team captain Steven Stamkos on the ice. Stamkos, 30, suffered an injury prior to the NHL’s restart and missed all but 2:47 of Tampa Bay’s postseason run to the Cup.
Yes, two minutes and 47 seconds. After taking warmup for Game 3 of the Final, Stamkos made his return to the lineup, where he skated in just a handful of first-period shifts, actually scoring in his return to play, before calling it a night and sitting out the remainder of the game, and eventually series with an undisclosed injury.
“He gamed it out,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper earlier this past week. “To be honest I didn’t think he was playing at all in these playoffs. I don’t think any of us did. So he gave us 2:47 of brilliant hockey, that’s a phenomenal story. He scored a huge goal for us in a win. He did everything he could to get back, and he did get back, and unfortunately he couldn’t go any further. Hopefully the next time we see him on the ice is during a trophy presentation.”
The next time that Stamkos was seen was most definitely for a trophy presentation, just as Cooper had hoped. Although NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was not met with quite as many ‘boos’ as has generally been the case, the in-game presentation crew did a phenomenal job of piping in some artificial ‘crowd noise’ as Bettman gave his address.
After Stamkos took his twirl with the Cup, he handed it off to Hedman, who then initiated the unwritten protocol of giving the trophy to the long-serving veteran players on the winning team’s squad. Patrick Maroon, Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn, Kevin Shattenkirk and Zach Bogosian quickly earned their laps.
Yes – that Zach Bogosian. The player the former Atlanta Thrashers drafted third overall in 2008, who went on to play six seasons with the franchise, including four in Winnipeg. With the Jets, ‘Bogo’ got off to a hot start, scoring five goals and 30 points in 65 games in Winnipeg’s return to the NHL in 2011-12. Prior to being traded to Buffalo alongside Evander Kane in the Tyler Myers/Jack Roslovic deal, the now 30-year-old defenceman put up 16 goals, 68 points and 188 penalty minutes in 194 total regular season contests while wearing the Jets crest.
In February, Bogosian was third amongst all NHL players in games played without having participated in a single postseason contest. He was cut by the Buffalo Sabres and sent down to the club’s American Hockey League squad, where he refused to go. He was Waived and acquired by the Lightning. He joined fellow defensive rejects Kevin Shattenkirk and Luke Schenn on the Bolts’ bluleine and will now see his name engraved on the most elusive trophy in all of professional sports. What a year it has been.
Bogosian joins Ron Hainsey, Eric Fehr, Johnny Oduya and Chris Thorburn as former Winnipeg Jets who have gone on to earn Stanley Cup victories following their stints within Manitoba.