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One and Done

The Tampa Bay Lightning stumbled through years of mediocracy and failure from the innaugural 2005 season to 2015 where the lightning only participated in one playoff series in 11 seasons. All that changed at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season where Tampa Bay was ranked the 2nd best team in the annual Hoover Rankings and looked poised to not only make the playoffs but compete for a Stanley Cup. That season, compete is exactly what they did finishing the regular season with the top seed in the NEFHL winning the Presidents Trophy. 

The change in fortunes did not simply end with a  great regular season. It continued into the playoffs winning their first playoff series in team history against a very competive Sabres team. They then managed to sweep the division rival Jets in the second round followed by an intense 7 game series against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Senators in which they prevailed. All this was fantastic, a great regular season, playoff success and now a chance at winning the Stanley Cup against an NEFHL storied franchise Calgary Flames.

Calgary wasn't necessarily expected to be in the Cup final that season as on paper they have definitely iced some better lineup in past years including the season they won the stanley cup. Despite their doubter, they rode their hard work and mommentum through the western ranks and gained a chance to win a 2nd Stanley Cup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Tampa got off to a great start winning both games at home followed by Calgary in turn taking care of home ice winning both games in Calgary. This turned into a best of 3 series with Tampa controlling home ice for games 5 and 7. Unfortunately for them, Calgary surprised Tampa by winning their 3rd in a row and taking a 3-2 lead in the series heading back home to Calgary. Mommentum was not on Tampa's side, they had an uphill climb ahead of them. Though just as they did all season, they rose to the challenge and finished off the series by getting the win in Calgary and winning the Stanley cup on home ice in front of the lightning faithful. 

Everything was looking great for this once mediocre at best franchise. They had a great regular season, fought their way to wins in all 4 series to win the Stanley cup and were riding great mommentum from an outstanding season. The future was bright, they boasted a young group of experienced talented skaters and had one of the best goalies in the league in Jonathan Quick. I must say, I don't think anyone saw what was about to happen next. Last season the Lightning weren't even able to make the playoffs and at the half way point of this season, the lightning sit 8 games below .500 and 27th in league rankings. What looked like such a promising start to a franchise turning the corner actually appears to be a one and done year of greatness.