Lightning vs. Canadiens in 1st all-East Cup final since 1980

After gutting out a hard series to get to the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning should not need to alter their design of play to compare versus the Montreal Canadiens.

They will not need to alter time zones, either.

Thanks to an adjusted playoff format for simply this season, this will be the very first last in between 2 Eastern Conference groups in 41 years. Tampa Bay and Montreal will take on for the 3rd time in 8 postseasons, and this time it’s for the Stanley Cup.

“They’re going to get the best team that they’ve played against so far, and we’re going to get the best team that we’ve played against so far,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos stated Friday after a 1-0 triumph versus the New york city Islanders in Video Game 7 of the semifinals. “It’s going to be a tough, grinding series.”

Montreal swept Tampa Bay in the preliminary in 2014 en route to the East last, and the Lightning beat the Canadiens in 6 video games in the 2nd round on their method to the 2015 last. Lightning coach Jon Cooper, Stamkos and 6 other gamers stay from the series 6 years back, while the Canadiens just have Brendan Gallagher left on their lineup from at that time.

These groups have likewise flip-flopped functions considering that. The Canadiens are now the more youthful group that had not gone deep into the playoffs yet, while the Lightning withstood the discomfort of losing in the 2015 last and getting purged of the preliminary in 2019 prior to winning everything in the bubble in 2015.

“It took a lot to get here,” Cooper stated. “It was all building blocks to get to here, and you can’t predict that. It’s going to happen.”

It’s taking place now, with Video Game 1 at Tampa Bay set for Monday night.

TRAVEL AID

The last time a Stanley Cup Final occurred in between 2 Eastern groups, the New york city Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 1980 for the very first of their 4 successive titles. Then-Flyers forward Reggie Leach didn’t believe much of the bus journeys backward and forward in between Philadelphia and Long Island due to the fact that, “We took a bus every place back then.”

This will not rather be that, however it’s absolutely nothing like current series in between Boston and St. Louis, Washington and Vegas or Chicago and Tampa Bay.

“It takes a toll on you flying across the country on your off days,” stated previous Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, now an NBC Sports expert. “You have enough stress and physical pressure in those games that to spend your off days on the airplanes getting ready to play another one was definitely tough.”

COST VS. VASILEVSKIY

Who’s the very best goaltender in hockey? The last in between Montreal’s Carey Cost and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy might go a long method towards choosing that.

Cost has actually permitted 35 objectives in 17 video games, and Vasilevskiy 36 objectives in 18 video games.

“It’ll be obviously a big challenge for both teams,” Vasilevskiy stated. “Carey, obviously he’s a great goalie — one of the best in the NHL — so, I’ll give him my best effort, for sure.”

CROWD CONTROL

Cooper stated he’d never ever heard a structure as loud as the last minute of the semifinal clincher versus the Islanders, which’s with Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena at complete capability. Montreal’s Bell Centre has actually been restricted to 3,500 fans with the hope, even from visitors, that more are allow for the last.

“I hope they let more fans in there,” Cooper stated. “The fans in Quebec deserve it. They haven’t been back since ’93. They deserve to watch their team play. … This game was meant to be played in front of fans.”

TRAINING CONTRAST

While Cooper has actually lagged the Lightning’s bench considering that 2013, the Canadiens are on their 3rd coach considering that February. Dominque Ducharme took control of when Claude Julien was fired in February, and assistant Luke Richardson ended up being acting coach when Ducharme checked favorable for the coronavirus.

Ducharme might be out of seclusion as quickly as Video game 3 Friday in Montreal.

WIN NOW VS. WIN FAR BACK

Montreal will be searching for its very first champion considering that 1993, which was Tampa Bay’s inaugural season. The Canadiens have an NHL-best 24 titles, however the Lightning have actually won two times considering that 2004 and end up being a basic bearer for franchise success.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us, and that’s where we go back to all the times that we’ve been in this situation,” Stamkos stated. “And this core now, there’s guys that this is their third final. We just go back on past experiences and go from there.”

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.