The Tampa Bay Lightning are still feeling the sting of their first-round playoff exit to the Toronto Maple Leafs last spring. The Lightning had won two consecutive Stanley Cups and made three Final appearances in the previous four seasons but fell to the Maple Leafs in six games during the 2023 playoffs.
One of the players who is still most upset about the loss is defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev, 25, is a key component of the Lightning’s defense, and he’s already made it clear that he’s still not over the loss heading into the new season.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Renewed focus
In an interview with 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Sergachev didn’t hold back about Tampa’s defeat last April.
"“In my head, we should’ve won the Cup,” Sergachev said in a recent interview. “Every year we should win the Cup. Yeah, obviously, we’re pissed off. We don’t want to lose.”"
Sergachev is not alone. He said the entire Lightning organization is still feeling the pain of the loss, and they’re determined to make it right this season.
"“We don’t want to be the team that Toronto finally got to the second round, and they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning,” Sergachev said. “They didn’t go through the second round. But we didn’t want to be that and lose to them.”"
The first matchup between the two teams will be on October 21 in Tampa Bay.
The ultimate test will come in the playoffs, but Sergachev indicated that the squad is laser-focused heading into the season like they haven’t been in past seasons.
"“We’ll see when camp starts how pissed off we are,” Sergachev said. “The guys are very competitive even now.”“Usually before camp we skate. We’ll do five drills and play a game. Usually it’s like beer-league hockey. Now, it’s intense. Some hitting, too. It’s great. Competitive. No one is going to let me walk them on the blue line. It’s not acceptable anymore.”"