If the Tampa Bay Lightning fail to make it to the Stanley Cup after Friday night, they will rue the opportunity they had last night at the Amaile Arena.
They trailed 2-1 going into the third 20 minute period, but left being cannonaded by Ranger goals, suffering a 7-3 loss that evens the best-of-seven series at three games each. The Rangers, who have won six straight seventh games in a playoff series, never having lost a game seven at home, now have that seventh game at Madison Square Garden.
While the fans, media, and players know that these respective streaks are on the line, the pucks, sticks, and other hockey equipment that will be used do not. Remember that each game, as they say in gambling, is an independent trial. If you go out to Las Vegas and hit ten straight sevens on the craps tables, the dice don’t care about you hitting an eleventh seven in a row.
Lightning fans: keep your chins up, and remember that they can still win Friday and set local sports history. None of the “big three” franchises (Bucs, Rays, or Lightning) have made it to two championships in their respective histories. It can still happen. Don’t look at Friday night with dread, look at it instead as opportunity.