Tampa Bay Lightning must leave it all on the ice in Game 7

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

The Tampa Bay Lightning simply must leave it all out on the ice in Game 7 if they want to advance to the Stanley Cup Final to face the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has fought an incredible battle to get to where they are right now. Tonight, the Lightning has the opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final and face the Vegas Golden Knights in what will undoubtedly be a battle for the ages for the greatest trophy in sports today.

Before the Lightning can look forward to the Stanley Cup Final, they have a little bit of business to attend to tonight at the Amalie Arena in the heart of Downtown Tampa. The Lightning will have to rebound from their Game 6 loss in DC and find a way to defeat the ever-growing physicality of the Washington Capitals.

If the Bolts are going to achieve this lofty goal, they simply must leave everything out on the ice. In Game 7, there is no promise of tomorrow. It’s do or die. The Capitals are looking for their first-ever Stanley Cup victory and their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since the 1997-98 season.

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This makes for an incredibly desperate team; one who will do just about anything to make it to the next round. If the Lightning wants to overcome this and take their fate in the palm of their hands, they will have to match (and even exceed) this intensity.

The Lightning will need top-notch efforts from every single player on the ice. Of these players, one of the strongest will have to be Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy has quickly proven he has what it takes to be the Lightning’s number one. It’s this kind of play which made him a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

Unfortunately, some holes in the Lightning’s defensive play have forced Vasy to go above and beyond at certain points in the season. While there is definitely no “I” in team, there is no denying Andrei Vasilevskiy has been a huge part of the Lightning’s success this season.

Another player who will need to elevate his game against the Capitals tonight is Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov spent almost the entire regular season leading the NHL in Points. Currently, Kucherov leads the Lightning in Points, but only by a slight margin.

Kucherov has played 16 games in the postseason with the Bolts, and in this amount of time, he has brought home seven goals and 10 assists for a total of 17 points. Regrettably, Kucherov came up empty in the Lightning’s 3-0 shutout loss to the Capitals in Game 6.

Undoubtedly, Nikita Kucherov is one of the most highly-skilled forwards on the team right now. There are times fans have been forced to do a double take because his sick skills were almost too good to be true. This is the effort Kucherov will need to bring to the ice tonight.

The simple fact of the matter is no one likes losing. If they did, there would be no need for competition. Everyone wants to be the best at what they do. The Lightning has more than enough skill on their roster in order to get the job done. The outcome of tonight’s game will depend on which team wants it more.

The keys to victory are the same as always; strike hard, strike fast, play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey, and (for the love of the Hockey Gods) stay out of the penalty box. In addition to this, the Bolts will need to match the physicality of the Capitals one-for-one. At no point can the Bolts allow the Caps the advantage.

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In just a matter of hours, these two teams will be taking the ice in what is sure to be a hard-hitting, fast-paced Game 7. The puck is set to drop at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time from the Amalie Arena in Tampa. The game will be televised on NBC Sports. Fans can also tune into 970WFLA or the TBL Power Play on iHeartRadio to listen to Dave Mishkin and Lightning founder Phil Esposito make the call.