Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper of Prince George is on the verge of winning his second straight Stanley Cup.

Nothing can replace the thrill of capturing Lord Stanley’s Mug for the first time, but Cooper was not able to bring the coveted Cup home last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview shortly after winning the 2020 championship, Cooper told MYPGNOW “It’s a tough one, because you dream of that, bringing it home. During the pandemic, and these difficult times and the borders… it’s tough. I feel bad for our players because we have a lot of Canadian players, they may not get to experience their time with the cup in Canada. Everyone in Prince George knows I am thinking of them, we probably won’t be able to bring the cup there in person but (I am) definitely there in spirit.”

Here we are in early July, less than 10 months later and it appears Tampa will be able to repeat and Cooper may get that chance to bring the Cup to P.G., just like Brett Connolly did in 2018 when he was with the Washington Capitals.

Prior to that,  New Jersey Devils winger Turner Stevenson brought it to Prince George in 2003.

Tampa has the best talent in NHL but the team’s MVP has been goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who made 42 saves in a first-star performance in that 3-1 victory Wednesday night that gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens.

Vasilevskiy sits as the clear front runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The last goalie to be named playoff MVP was Jonathan Quick of the LA Kings in 2012.

Carey Price has easily been the Habs best performer in the playoffs, but even he has taken a back seat to Vasilevskiy, who has allowed one goal or less in 10 of Tampa’s 20 post-season games this year.

While the series is technically not over, it appears the only question left is if Montreal can win a game at home and avoid the sweep.

I am not sure the Canadiens can play any better than they did in Game 2, yet they lost 3-1, despite outshooting the Bolts 43-23.

Vasilevskiy leads all goalies with a whopping .939 save percentage to go along with a sparkling 1.89 goals-against-average.

He loves playing Montreal, winning his last 10 overall starts against them.

The 33-year-old Price has been very good in the playoffs and his stats back that up (.926 save percentage and 2.22 GAA) but he has been lit up for eight goals in two games against Tampa while the 26-year-old Vasilevskiy has given up just two.

The Lightning have the top four scoring forwards (Kucherov, Point, Stamkos, and Killorn) and the top-scoring defenceman (Hedman) in the post-season yet it is their goalie (the best in the world?) that shines the brightest.

If you are curious the Canadiens top scorer is 9th (Suzuki).

Cooper is arguably the top coach in the NHL.

Part of the reason is he has Vasilevskiy on his side, something all other coaches could only hope for.

 

Taking Note:


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Wonder how many advertisers signed up expecting an NBA final with the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets? Oops.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

The US Pacific Northwest and Western Canada have been baking in record temperatures in recent days due to a once-in-a-millennium phenomenon called a heat dome. The only other dome in contemporary times that has caused as much sweltering, brutal misery as this one is Minnesota’s Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Three things scientists found on the recently-discovered Einstein’s planet, 2,000 light-years from Earth:  
3. Temperatures of 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit; 
2. Fast jet-stream winds;  
1. Dozens of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s home run balls.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games.
Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca