Lighting Strikes Twice

For the second consecutive season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have clinched a playoff berth, largely due to their unrivaled ability to play effectively in all three zones, as well as their reliance star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

With the Stanley Cup playoffs only a month away, we look to see what it takes for a team to do well. Many think that the best team in the regular season will do the best in the playoffs, but that is often not the case. In fact, the Presidents’ Trophy winner, the team with the best regular season record, rarely wins the Stanley Cup. Since the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced in 1985, only eight teams have won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup. So what does it take for a team to win the greatest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup?

Contribution from All Four Lines

The teams that win the Stanley Cup have been the teams that have both their stars and their second and third line members contribute. In the 2018 playoffs, Washington Capitals star, Alexander Ovechkin, lead the playoffs in goals with 15 but it was Lars Eller, the third line center who led the Stanley Cup Playoffs with three game winning goals. This can also be seen with the Blackhawks’ three championships in six years with players like Bryan Bickell and Antoine Vermette, who played large roles in the success of the team.

Well-Conditioned Defense

Defensemen almost always lead the team in time on ice per game for skaters. However, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that time is increased for the best defensemen. On top of the increased ice time, they are playing almost a game every other day, which can be very taxing. In the 2016 playoffs, Kris Letang averaged nearly 29 minutes of ice time per game on his way to the first of back-to-back Stanley Cups. While everyone must be well conditioned, the defensemen must have a little extra per game.

Goaltending

Every Stanley Cup contender needs to have strong goaltending. You simply can’t win without it. Having a goaltender who can be relied upon to come up with big saves in crucial situations is extremely important, especially in the NHL playoffs.

The team who wins the championship is almost always the team with the best goaltender. Fifteen goalies have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, second only to centers. Oftentimes, though, the forwards who win the trophy say they are undeserving compared to their goaltender, as Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said when he won the trophy in 2013.

Playoff Beards

The NHL playoff beard is one of the greatest traditions in sports. Each player who plays in the playoffs grows out their beard until their team loses. So, naturally, the team with the best, longest beards are usually the teams who win the Stanley Cup. Other sports leagues have also joined in the tradition of growing a playoff beard as well as many fans.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston

Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks have clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving 11 spaces left for teams to battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Who will be this years Stanley Cup Champion? We will find out soon enough.

Contact Jack Breitowich at jbreitowich@colgate.edu.

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