Capitals

Why Caps fans should watch the Stars-Lightning Stanley Cup Final

Capitals

If the Stanley Cup Final being played in September wasn't enough of a reason for a Capitals fan to watch a team win it all this season, there are a couple more storylines that could draw your interest. 

This season's championship features two franchises that aren't typically thought of among hockey's elite: the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars. 

And while Caps fans might not be open to finding a similarity between a team that has been a thorn in Washington's side and another team that hails from Dallas, there are a few.

Most notably are the parallels that can be drawn by the Lightning. 

The Lightning have been one of the best teams in the NHL for the past several seasons. Each of the previous seven years, the team has reached 90 points even in a coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season. In that span, they've won two Atlantic Division titles and made the playoffs six times. Last year they nearly made history by being a mere four points short of Montreal's all-time point record with 128 points in the standings while winning the President's Trophy. 

Their squad has been the best of the best with an elite lineup of Steven Stamkos, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn being there throughout the playoff struggles.

All Tampa Bay has to show for it so far is one Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Before the Capitals broke through in 2018, their path was similar. 

Twice the Capitals won the President's Trophy. Each of the four seasons prior was 90+ point seasons. Not once did they get a shot at the title. 

 

In fact, one of Tampa Bay's great seasons was the year Washington won it all. With one of the best offenses in the sport, many thought they were unstoppable. The Lightning even had a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals over the Capitals and many believed it to be over. 

"Tampa, they want to be like the Capitals and break through," NBC hockey analyst Keith Jones said. "They've been a team that's been right there with Washington over the last decade as one of the better teams and more consistently good teams in the league, but have not been able to get over the hump."

Who would have thought that Tampa's best chance would come with their prolific goal scorer Stamkos nursing an injury these playoffs?

Dallas, of course, is the underdog. They have the grind-it-out, get in the face of their opponent mentality that can really rely on power-play goals. There aren't many stars, but Tyler Seguin and Jamie Been have held the fort down to get this opportunity. It's the franchise's first Stanley Cup appearance since they made back-to-back Finals in 1999 and 2000. 

For a fan without a dog in the fight, it's hard not to like the Stars. Also for Capitals fans, they have yet to beat Washington in the playoffs (like Tampa) and also they are in the opposing conference (unlike Tampa).

It all starts Saturday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. One team will be hoisting its second Stanley Cup and mark the beginning of the end of a wild and strange 2020 season.