The scene is set for the 2004 Stanley Cup finals - the Tampa Bay Lightning
will take on the Calgary Flames
. The Lightning were the part of the initial NHL expansion of the 1990s, joining the league along with the Senators in 1992. They have certainly come a long way from those early days, putting behind a bunch of ownership problems and on-ice growing pains. They have put together a highly skilled and cohesive team with a combination of good amatuer drafting and savvy trades.
The Calgary Flames too have a lot of be proud of. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1989 they hit the skids, not getting past the first round of the playoffs until this season. By far the Cinderella story of the postseason, the Flames were in a heap of trouble about a year and half ago when they brought in Darryl Sutter to take over the general manager and coaching duties. Sutter instilled a sense of hard work and team play and tweaked around with the team, landing goalie Miikka Kiprusoff from the San Jose Sharks.
The Flames and Lightning might not be the two biggest market teams, but they are certainly very deserving of playing for Lord Stanley's mug. The next week or two should bring about some great hockey.