If you had told me three decades ago that Tampa Bay would be a hockey hotbed, I would have looked at you crazily. Back then, the closest NHL teams were either in Washington D.C. or St. Louis. There was a closer franchise for a few years when Atlanta had the Flames for a few seasons from 1972 up until 1980 before moving to Calgary in western Canada.
Yesterday, the Lightning locked up their second straight trip to a conference final for the first time in franchise history. They beat the New York Islanders 4-0 to win their second playoff series in a row 4 games to 1, quite impressive considering New York won the first game. They now await either Washington or Pittsburgh in the conference finals series, the winner of that going to the Stanley Cup series. Even more impressive is that Tampa Bay is doing this without Steven Stamkos, one of their star players, sidelined for several weeks with a blood clot in his arm with an Effort Thrombosis condition.
Might be another magical spring for local hockey fans.