Originally created 05/24/04

Stanley Cup Finals Capsule



Capsule look at the Stanley Cup finals:

East No. 1 Tampa Bay (46-22-8-6) vs. West No. 6 Calgary (42-30-7-3) 2003-04 series review: Tampa Bay won 6-2 at Calgary on Jan. 24.

How they got here: Tampa Bay beat No. 8 New York Islanders 4-1; No. 7 Montreal 4-0; and No. 3 Philadelphia 4-3. Calgary beat No. 3 Vancouver 4-3; No. 1 Detroit 4-2; and No. 2 San Jose 4-2.

Playoff History: First meeting.

TAMPA BAY: After easy wins over New York and Montreal, the Lightning stood up to the physical pounding Philadelphia provided and gutted out a Game 7 victory. Special teams were easily the difference in the series as the Flyers connected for just one goal in 25 chances - including going 0-for-15 over the final four games. The Lightning power play has been sizzling, going 9-for-22 against Philadelphia. Tampa Bay had seven goals in its last 14 man-advantage chances and scored at least one power-play goal in all but Game 1. Martin St. Louis, a regular-season MVP finalist, is the Lightning's clubhouse leader for MVP of the playoffs, too, as he has an NHL-best 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) in only 16 postseason games. Vincent Lecavalier had his second straight strong series after going scoreless in the first round. Lecavalier followed his five-goal, two-assist performance against Montreal with four goals and two assists in the conference finals. Brad Richards, who had 79 points in the regular season, has 17 more in the playoffs - including assists on both goals in Game 7. Nikolai Khabibulin has shaken all doubts about his fragile psyche and has looked sharp in all but one game in the postseason. He even made a key pad save in the closing seconds against the Flyers to secure Tampa Bay's first trip to the finals in the franchise's 12th NHL season. Khabibulin has stopped 401 of 427 postseason shots in posting a 1.65 goals-against average and 12-4 record. Lightning 40-year-old captain Dave Andreychuk is in finals for first time after playing 1,752 regular-season and postseason games without getting that far.

CALGARY: Tied for the Western Conference lead for most wins against the East with 11. But to win the Stanley Cup, the Flames will have to defeat their fourth straight opponent that amassed over 100 points in the regular season. Calgary faced the toughest road possible in the playoffs having played the top three teams in the West and now matched against the East's No. 1 team. Flames will have had five days off since eliminating San Jose. The rest should be helpful, but could create some rust. The Flames will have to overcome that quickly to keep up with the speedy Lightning, who always look to turn mistakes into breakaways. Jarome Iginla, in his first season as captain, got the Flames into the playoffs after a seven-year absence to solidify his place among NHL MVP finalists. He has been every bit as valuable in the playoffs, leading the Flames to their first postseason victories since winning the Cup in 1989. He enters the finals with 17 postseason points (10 goals, 7 assists), a total second only to Lightning star St. Louis. As good as Iginla has been, he won't be able to do it alone. Miikka Kiprusoff will have to be every bit in good as he has been in the first three rounds when he posted a 1.90 goals-against average. Martin Gelinas, no stranger to the finals, has been clutch in scoring the winning goals in each of Calgary's three series victories. Craig Conroy has five goals, 10 assists, and a plus-10 rating equaled on the Flames only by Iginla. The Flames are 10-1 in the playoffs when scoring first.

OUTLOOK: Tampa Bay faced its tough test against Philadelphia. Now the Florida sun will shine brightly on Lord Stanley's Cup. Prediction: Lightning in 5.