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Lightning reveal (but don’t raise) Stanley Cup banner, then blast Blackhawks

Frontline workers and first responders introduce Victor Hedman and Tampa Bay onto the ice as they open the 2020-21 season by revealing their first Stanley Cup banner that they will raise to the rafters when fans return.

Really, it was probably always going to be a little weird when the Tampa Bay Lightning first celebrated becoming the 2019-20 Stanley Cup champions. And ... yeah, it was a little strange. The Lightning went through a lengthy introduction to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory, and while the team revealed the banner, they announced that it won’t be raised until fans are in attendance.

You can watch the Lightning’s Stanley Cup ceremony (and banner reveal) in the video above.

Having frontline workers introduce different groups was a creative touch. As it turns out, the ceremony ended up being the most dramatic moment of the contest. Otherwise, the Lightning dominated the Blackhawks 5-1.

Stamkos looks like Stamkos

Let’s get this out of the way: we’ll get a better idea of where Steven Stamkos really is when the Lightning face more viable opponents than the Blackhawks.

With that noted, it was promising to see Stamkos look like Stamkos. While scoring a goal from this area constitutes “from Alex Ovechkin’s office,” Stamkos feasts there, too:

Both Stamkos and Brayden Point scored goals, and there were times when the Lightning absolutely made it easy. (Then there were moments of undeniable dominance. Ondrej Palat’s great opening goal might leave opponents wondering what they can really do against the Bolts.)

A long season coming for Subban

It’s difficult to overstate how often Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford bailed out the Blackhawks last season. Chicago enjoyed its success when they can score enough, and get enough saves, to survive their defense.

With Jonathan Toews on the shelf, and those two veteran goalies no longer around, there could be a lot of nights like these. From a mercy standpoint, the Blackhawks should probably spread the misery between Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia fairly evenly.

Maybe you can beat up Subban for a goal here or there, but the score could have gotten even more out of hand at times. Just look at this early save of the year candidate stop on Alex Killorn:

Unfortunately, the Blackhawks defense will ask Subban to make plenty of highlight-reel saves this season. And they probably still won’t be enough.

On the bright side, the Blackhawks only face the Lightning (gulp) seven more times in 2020-21.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.