The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

LIGHTNING. FLAMES. STANLEY CUP. PINCH ME!
zap! burn!
What more do I need to say? Who would have predicted a Stanley Cup Finals with these two teams?

I'm in Tampa Bay, I was at a Lightning party last night wearing my (now-)lucky Lightning third jersey, and I'm still in shock. Appropriately, given the team's name.

The Lightning are in the Finals. The Lightning! A team that was bad enough during its early '90s expansion years to be dubbed "the Bucs on ice". A team that went from 1997 to 2001 with at least 50 losses per season. A team that, despite earning the best record in the Eastern Conference this year, and second-best overall, was expected to eventually fold in the postseason. And now, this team is going into the Stanley Cup round as the favorite.

And on the other side, who expected the Flames to be here? (Aside from Liz; and sorry babe, but I've gotta go with the hometown team on this!). Calgary needed until almost the end of the regular season to clinch, and have been the underdog for the entire playoffs (although I expected them to take down Vancouver). They've gotten here with a castoff goalie who's been nothing short of amazing, a young defense corps that's become a joy to watch execute, and a power forward with whom everyone wants to chill. The Flames have an entire country rooting for them now (although I'm sure some diehards in Edmonton haven't been able to bring themselves to do so), and they deserve every accolade.

It's that best time of year. Let's get it on! And let's let the St. Petersburg Times and Calgary Sun provide the prose.

For me, the first order of business today is to go out and get me a replica Lightning Eastern Conference cap. The second order of business was going to be getting a ticket for Game 1 or Game 2, but as far as Ticketmaster is concerned, both games are already sold out. So it's time to hit the scalpers... How often do you get a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals in your own hometown? I'm gonna have to swallow hard on the asking price--I am a working schlub--but I'm hopeful of being in the Forum this Tuesday or Thursday.