Tampa Bay had one of the best regular seasons in NHL history, amassing 128 points and a record 62 wins. Going into the playoffs, they were huge favorites to win the Cup by many in the sports media and around the league. The team was stacked; Kucherov, Stamkos, Vasilevsky, Point, and Hedman. Certainly the deepest team in the NHL.
On the other hand, you have the Columbus Blue Jackets. At the deadline, they made major controversial moves picking up players like Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. It didn’t look good to start as immediately following the deadline they lost a few games consecutively, but they were able to finish the season winning 7 of the last 8 and sliding into the last wild card spot on one of the last days of the regular season.
Going into the series, no one had any real expectations of a potential upset by the Blue Jackets. The Jackets had never won a series in their history and if they kept the series competitive, it would already be a surprise. If there was going to be a sweep, it would for sure be the Lightning sweeping the series and not the other way around. Well that wasn’t the case…
The Lightning were able to go up 3-0 in the first period of game 1 but could not muster up any other momentum the rest of that game and ultimately the rest of the series. Columbus stormed back and took game one by a score of 4-3 and simply never looked back. They looked dominant at times, especially in games 3 and 4 back in Columbus behind their rowdy home crowd.
Before a blink of an eye, the series was over and the Lightning were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by way of sweep.
One of the issues that I think really affected the Lightning is they haven’t played a meaningful game since March 18th when they won the Presidents Trophy. Columbus, on the other hand, needed every win they could grab to make the playoffs and were virtually playing playoff games down the stretch just to get in.
The thought is that the Lightning lost the energy they had earlier in the season and just couldn’t find it again when they needed it most.
Either way, it’s all over for the Lightning, the Blue Jackets will move onto round 2 and play either Toronto or Boston.
The biggest collapse of all time…Some may say.