Stanley Cup Watch: Will Lightning Strike Twice for Tampa Bay?

Cody BelangerCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2008

After the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup Championship in 2004, the League was forced to negotiate their new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Salary Cap was introduced into the NHL. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Nikolai Khabibulin and paid their top offensive trio (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Brad Richards) a substantial amount of their cap space. 

They then proceeded to spiral out of the playoff spotlight and have yet to address their main concern of a No. 1 goalie (if Mike Smith, acquired from Dallas at the trade deadline, can fix this problem is yet to be seen).

The Ottawa Senators seem to be in a similar situation recently.  Their big offensive trio of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson are locked up for several years and for a nice chunk of change (a cap hit of 18.71 million dollars per year), but both goalies have been faltering since late November. 

Eerily similar to the Tampa Bay situation, isn't it?  I believe the only reason the Senators are above the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Standings is that the Ottawa draft system is so good that the Sens secondary scoring is making the difference. 

They might not show up every night, but the Sens big line aren't the only ones scoring in Canada's Capital.  Tampa Bay doesn't have as much depth or homegrown talent as the Ottawa Senators.

So the question remains: Will Lightning strike twice, or is Ottawa's depth going to be their saving grace?