The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night by a score of 2-1 at the hand of the mighty Chicago Blackhawks. Although no team ever wants to start a seven-game series by digging themselves a hole, especially with home ice advantage, could being down 1-0 actually be a good thing for the Lightning? Call me crazy, but I believe it could.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team in NHL history to play an Original Six team in all four rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the first round, they fell into a 1-0, 2-1 and a 3-2 series deficit to the Detroit Red Wings before coming from behind to win the series in seven games. In Round Two, the Lightning sprinted to a 3-0 series lead before eventually defeating the Montreal Canadiens in six games. Lastly, Tampa fell into a 1-0 hole to the New York Rangers before battling back to win the series in seven games.
Now in their third 1-0 series deficit of the 2015 postseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning have become accustomed to criticism and battling from behind. Although the past results of going behind 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals may look bleak for Tampa Bay, they’re an extremely resilient team that could defy the odds.
Since the Final went to best-of-7 in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has captured the #StanleyCup 77.3% of the time (58 of 75 series).
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 4, 2015
The Lightning are a young team that learns on the fly and adapts to their opponents’ style of play, in order to find a way to come up with wins. When they went up against the Detroit Red Wings, a team that plays a fast paced and skilled game, the Lightning struggled to find a way to consistently overwork them. The Wings style of play is somewhat similar to that of the Chicago Blackhawks, and the experience of battling through Detroit should pay dividends in this series.
Why Can Tampa Bay Come Back?
Although the Lightning lost Game One, there were plenty of positives in the game which prove they can, and will, compete in this series. For the first two periods, Tampa Bay controlled the pace of play and was able to burst past the Hawks to create scoring chances. Their unpredictable playmaking caused confusion amongst the Blackhawks in their own zone.
This loss will definitely frustrate Tampa Bay for a game they feel they deserved to win. However, their resilience and will to compete may become dangerous for Chicago. This team, although young and yet to win anything major in the NHL, has had more than their share of success in their career. They know what it takes to win championships in hockey, and certainly know that deficits can be erased.
How Can the Loss Turn Into a Positive?
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s experience of being behind in a series give some realistic expectations of a comeback. In previous series, they came out much better in Game Two after watching and learning the styles and plays of the opponent. With two off days in between games, it will give them an extra edge to come back home and split their games. As young players do best, they never give up, and get pissed off when things don’t go their way.
There’s also proof that Chicago isn’t the most consistent team in the league. Starting in the crease, Corey Crawford seems to go off and on each and every night. In the first round, he lost his starting job after giving up three goals in the first 12 shots he faced. They struggled in the first five games of the Conference Finals, winning just two games, in triple and double overtime. They only led the game for about 70 of the first 300 minutes of the series, before winning both game six and seven. No doubt, Chicago is able to go on a bad stretch.
Another thing to consider for the Tampa Bay Lightning is their home and away record in these playoffs. In 11 home games, they are just 5-6, despite a league best 32-8-1 home record during the regular season. On the road however, they’ve gone 7-3 in the playoffs. If they can split their first two home games and continue to have success on the road, the Lightning can definitely come from behind and defy the odds to win the 2015 Stanley Cup.
Do you believe the Tampa Bay Lightning can comeback to win the Stanley Cup?
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Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.