The Tampa Bay Lightning's Cup Run Could Be a Hollywood Film

Bob FoxContributor IJune 2, 2015

The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate their 2-0 win over the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final during the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, Friday, May 29, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

When it comes to movies about hockey, Slap Shot and Miracle are right at the top of my list. Anytime they are on television, when I'm channel-surfing, I'll stop and watch them.

I don't know if Hollywood will ever make a movie about what the Tampa Bay Lightning have done during their 2015 Stanley Cup run, but with all the ironic twists and turns along the way, the film would be very interesting and compelling.

And the run isn't over yet, as the Bolts get set to take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, starting Wednesday, June 3.

The Blackhawks will be the fourth Original Six team the Lightning have played so far in the postseason. The Bolts are the first team in NHL history to do that, as Adam Gretz of CBSSports.com reported.

The postseason started when the Lightning matched up against the Detroit Red Wings, which is a very ironic way to start the playoffs. Why? Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman had spent his entire 22-year playing career with the Red Wings.

During that time, the Wings won three Stanley Cups. In his illustrious career in Detroit, the 10-time NHL All-Star had 692 goals to go along with 1,063 assists for 1,755 points.

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After his retirement in 2006, Yzerman became team vice president. In 2007-08 the Red Wings won another Stanley Cup, with Yzerman in the front office.

The Red Wings gave Yzerman's Lightning all they could handle in the Stanley Cup playoffs' opening round.

The Bolts were down three games to two, with Game 6 in Detroit. The Lightning did not waver, as the Bolts beat the Red Wings 5-2. Then in Game 7, goalie Ben Bishop shut out the Wings 2-0, at Amalie Arena, to clinch the opening series.

The Detroit series star was center Tyler Johnson, who had six goals and one assist. His accomplices on the "Triplets" line also did well.

Left winger Ondrej Palat had one goal and two assists, while right winger Nikita Kucherov didn't have a goal, but he had four assists.

That would change for Kucherov versus the Lightning's next opponent, the Montreal Canadiens.

The Bolts were looking for revenge, as the Canadiens had swept the Lightning in four games in the 2013-14 Stanley Cup playoffs. But that was when the Bolts didn't have Bishop in front of their goal due to a wrist injury.

Bishop stayed solid again versus Montreal just like he had done against Detroit, where he had only given up 11 goals in seven games for a 0.910 save percentage.

Against the Habs, Bishop only allowed 10 goals in six games for a 0.923 save percentage, as the Bolts finished off the Canadiens 4-1 in Game 6 at Tampa.

TAMPA, FL - May 6: Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning shoots the puck into the net of goalie Carey Price #31 the Montreal Canadiens for the game winning goal during the third period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 20
Scott Audette/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Bolts were playing against Montreal's Carey Price, who is considered the best NHL goalie. Price is expected to win both the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) and the Vezina Trophy (outstanding goalie) because of his stellar play in front of the net in 2014-15.

The Bolts, who were the NHL's top offensive team during the regular season, put 17 biscuits in the basket against Price in the series.

Besides Bishop, the Lightning were led by the Triplets again, as Kucherov had six goals and one assist. Johnson, who was signed by the Lightning as an undrafted free agent, stayed hot as well, as he had two goals and three assists, while Palat also added two goals and three assists.

Besides that line, the Lightning also saw the emergence of Steven Stamkos, as he had three goals and four assists after having only three assists in the series versus Detroit.

Stamkos had some help on his line, as Alex Killorn also added a goal and four assists.

The defense also played very solidly against both Detroit and Montreal, led by Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.

Against the Red Wings and Canadiens, Hedman was a plus-seven and had one goal and one assist. No. 77 was quick on the ice, heading into the offensive zone, and played impeccable defense in his own end.

Stralman was consistent on defense as well, as he was a plus-four and had one goal and four assists, and he was especially sharp passing the puck against Montreal.

After finishing off the Canadiens, the Lightning then had to face the team that won the Presidents' Trophy this season, the New York Rangers.

Not only would the Rangers have home-ice advantage just as Montreal did, New York had three former Lightning players on its roster.

Two of them, Marty St. Louis and Dan Boyle, played on the Lightning team that won the 2004 Stanley Cup. St. Louis was also the Bolts' all-time leading scorer, with 953 points.

St. Louis was the Lightning's captain when he was traded last season for Ryan Callahan of the Rangers, who was also a captain.

Dominic Moore was another former member of the Bolts. Moore was on the 2010-11 Lightning team that made it to the Eastern Conference Final, facing off against the Boston Bruins, before losing 1-0 in Game 7.

Besides Callahan, the Bolts also had a couple of other former Rangers on the team, including Stralman and winger Brian Boyle, who both played with New York last season, when the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final versus the Los Angeles Kings.

The series lasted seven games, and Game 7 was played at legendary Madison Square Garden. The Rangers had won a Game 7 six straight times heading into their matchup against the Bolts, plus the Rangers had never lost a Game 7 in New York.

Not only that, but the Bolts would also be facing goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who also had never lost a Game 7 matchup.

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The Bolts showed the hockey world that they could beat the odds, as the Lightning shut out the Rangers 2-0. That was the second straight time that Bishop had shut out the Rangers in New York, as the Bolts had also won Game 5 by a score of 2-0.

That says something. The Rangers had three games where they were able to score five goals against Bishop in the series. But he came up big when he had to, showing a great resiliency to bounce back.

The Bolts had many players shine in the series against the Rangers, but a few really stood out.

Once more the Triplets struck again. Johnson had a big series, as he had four goals (including a hat trick) and five assists. Palat also had four goals and three assists, while Kucherov had three goals and four assists.

Stamkos stayed hot as well, as he had four goals and three assists, while his linemate Killorn had four goals (including the Game 7 game-winner) and three assists.

In Game 7, perhaps the Lightning's best player on the ice was Callahan. No. 24 had missed the first game of the series due to an emergency appendectomy and had gotten better as the series wore on.

In Game 6, Callahan scored his first goal of the playoffs. In Game 7, Callahan seemed to be everywhere on the ice, and his determination was evident with his excellent play.

It had to be a sweet feeling for Callahan to win the Eastern Conference crown in New York against a team he had been the captain of for so many years.

So now the Bolts get to take on the Blackhawks, a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice in the last five years.

Chicago will also have three Conn Smythe Trophy winners on its team when it faces the Lightning. Jonathan Toews won the award in 2010, while Patrick Kane won it in 2013.

Brad Richards of the Hawks also won the award in 2004, but at the time Richards was a member of the Lightning, ironically.

There will also be another Conn Smythe Trophy winner in the Amalie Arena, when they drop the puck on Wednesday night. That would be Yzerman, who won the award in 1998 as a member of the Red Wings.

Beating the Blackhawks will be a tough task for the Bolts, but the Lightning have passed all the difficult tests so far this postseason.

Chicago had the second-ranked defense during the NHL regular season. On the surface, that would appear to be a difficult assignment for the Bolts, but the Lightning have already beaten the NHL's top-ranked (Montreal) and third-ranked (New York) defenses on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Blackhawks also have one of the NHL's best defensemen in Duncan Keith, who has two goals and a whopping 16 assists so far in the playoffs. Add to that, Keith has a plus-13 rating so far in the postseason.

Keith gets a lot of help on the defensive end from players such as Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.

Plus the Hawks have wingers such as Toews, Kane, Richards, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw.

The Hawks' goalie position is not as strong, as veteran Corey Crawford has had his share of misery in the playoffs. Crawford has allowed 37 goals in 14 games, even with a strong defense playing in front of him.

In fact, the Hawks used both Crawford and Scott Darling in goal in their series against the Nashville Predators to open the postseason.

So while the Bolts are trying to stop the Blackhawks from winning their third Stanley Cup in six years, Tampa Bay is trying to bring home its second Cup in 11 years.

The 2003-04 Lightning were a fun team to watch, as I chronicled their Stanley Cup run in a story I did three years ago.

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 27: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning deflects the puck into the net for a goal after battling against Brent Seabrook #7 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at the Amalie Arena on February 27, 2015 in Tampa, F
Scott Audette/Getty Images

Even though the Blackhawks are a very formidable opponent, I have a strong feeling that the Bolts will bring home their second Stanley Cup.

Why? Although both teams are similar in many respects, the Lightning have more firepower overall and also have the edge in front of the net.

Another Bolts' wild card is head coach Jon Cooper. Cooper has won everywhere he's coached in hockey.

Cooper won titles with the St. Louis Bandits (NAHL), the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) and the Norfolk Admirals (AHL).

All of those championships under Cooper came in his second year with the team. In case you are wondering, this is Cooper's second full season coaching the Lightning.

Time will tell, but I predict the Bolts will be hoisting another Stanley Cup at some point later this month.

And if they do, the Bolts, with their performance in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, will have created a great Hollywood script.