Sunday, June 7, 2009
In one of the more unexpected things to happen in hockey history, on this date in 2004 the Stanley Cup was won by a team based in Florida.
Led by captain Dave Andreychuk, Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and the overlooked Cory Stillman (who actually outscored Lecavalier by 14 points during the regular season with the same number of games played), the Tampa Bay Lightning destroyed the competition in the Southeast Division, winning it by a 28 point margin.
The first round of the playoffs saw goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin register three shutouts against the overmatched New York Islanders. Montreal was swept in four, but Philadelphia posed a much larger hurdle, as the series went the full seven games before Tampa Bay advanced by winning a close one by a 2-1 score.
The Calgary Flames where their opponents in the finals, which also went to seven games, again won by a 2-1 score with Ruslan Fedotenko scoring both Lightning goals, in what proved to be the final game of hooking, clutching, grabbing and cross-checking, as the following season would be lost to the lockout.
Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning Brad Richards jersey with the 2004 Stanley Cup finals patch as worn by Richards, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner with 26 points in 23 games.
Tampa Bay has had a relatively brief history in the NHL, and their jersey didn't change from day one through the introduction of Reebok jerseys in 2007-08, but their lettering sure has taken some twists and turns. It's a unique path unlike any other jersey that we can think of. Never has one jersey worn so many different, and unique numbers.
Their first year they had a futuristic font in three colors for the names and numbers with a pronounced drop shadow. Their second year the names and numbers were now italicized, giving it even more of a Star Trek look.
Their third season saw yet another new set of graphics for the same basic jersey style as the "paintbrush" numbers were introduced. By far the craziest font in a league quite literally filled with traditional block numbers. The only other odd numbers that year were the St. Louis Blues numbers which were angled diagonally across the bottom to match the wild waist striping introduced that season, but even those were just distorted block numbers when you got down to the basics.
This doesn't even bring into account the fantastic "electric" numbers worn on their short-lived alternate jerseys.
The paintbrush font was used for seven years, only to be surprisingly replaced in 2001-02 by the frankly boring numbers you see here, which were already in use by the Pittsburgh Penguins, without italics, drop shadowing or any other feature to make them unique, as all other Lightning fonts had been throughout their entire history up until this point. It's a change we have never understood, especially considering their past history of unusual choices.
Dasherboard: The Red Wings, revitalized by playing at home and the return of Pavel Datsyuk, seemingly staked their claim to the Stanley Cup last night with a dominating 5-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With the score still close at 1-0 after the first period, Detroit came out flying in the second, scoring less than two minutes into the period and then scoring three consecutive power play goals, driving goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the net, as Pittsburgh couldn't stay out of the box, taking five penalties to Detroit's none. Oddly, Detroit did not score with a two man advantage for 1:40 to end the second as Crosby and Talbot both took penalties for blatant slashes to Red Wings stars Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
There was no scoring in the third period, but once the game reached it's final five minutes, the frustration started to boil over for the Penguins, as they took 5 more penalties, three of which were 10 minute misconducts as the referee's tried to keep the game under control.
And what about Evgeni Malkin? He finished the night tied with Crosby with but one shot on goal and took three of the nine minors for Pittsburgh.
Chris Osgood had 22 saves for his 15th career playoff shutout, third all-time, and added an assist on Detroit's second goal with a long lead pass worthy of the point he earned.
Game 6 is Tuesday in Pittsburgh, where the Red Wings will be looking to close out the series and the Penguins will be hoping to put last night's disaster behind them and be re-energized by their home crowd The home team has now won every game in the series, a trend the Penguins will be looking to continue.