The Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to go head to head in the Stanley Cup Finals to cap off what’s been a unique and challenging year for the NHL amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But even with no fans in the stands, a hockey champion will be crowned this year and fans should be treated to an exciting matchup that will feature the Stars’ red-hot offense up against a Lightning team that keeps coming through in the clutch.
Former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau believes the Lightning will outlast the Stars in the best-of-seven series because the team’s core knows what it’s like to fall short of winning it all year after year. The Stars are a young and exciting team, but Boudreau is concerned most of their players aren’t yet able to grasp what it means to be so close to winning the Stanley Cup.
“Sometimes, young guys, as good as they are, think they’re gonna get a lot of chances at winning the Stanley Cup,” Boudreau told NBC Sports Washington. “As they get older, they realize how important it is to put a good push in to win that and the Caps were the best example.”
Boudreau coached in Washington from 2007 to 2012. During that time, the Capitals’ “young guns” of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin were only just breaking into the league. The Capitals made the NHL playoffs in each of Boudreau’s five seasons with the team, but they never advanced past the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
However, six years after Boudreau was fired, Washington finally went the distance and won its Stanley Cup title. The former head coach believes that’s a testament to what those players learned throughout their years of experiencing playoff disappointment.
“They didn’t know how to win and they had to lose first to learn how to win,” Boudreau said. “Another good example is Tampa. They’re like the young Caps that I had. They lost, lost, lost and they’re all still together. But they…now know how important the Stanley Cup is so I think they’re probably in mind the favorite.”
The Stanley Cup Final begin Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.