Studying The Blueprint

October 3rd, 2020

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The Lightning toasted their Stanley Cup title with an emotional tribute at Raymond James Stadium.

That seems entirely apropos.

The 2020 Bucs can learn a lot from their hockey counterparts. And if Tampa Bay players absorb those lessons well, no one will be complaining if it’s Tom Brady who is drunk on his ass next February, chugging beer after beer on the victory stand instead of Nikita Kucherov.

The Lightning displayed awesome grit, determination and a singular focus while they were wrapped up in that Canadian bubble for two months. They adhered to strict Covid-19 protocols and their enthusiasm proved infectious through four grueling playoff rounds.

The Bucs are proud of their hockey brethren as they continue their own quest for a championship. The next three months will present a series of challenges for Buc players and coaches, but the Lightning just provided a blueprint for success.


You’ve heard it said many times and it’s still true — your best players need to be at their best. We just saw Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy lead the way. Jon Cooper’s elite players stepped to the forefront, showing everyone else how it’s done.

For the Bucs to realize their full potential, Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Lavonte David have to stay healthy, combine forces and showcase a dynamic style. Everyone else will follow suit.


The Lightning’s role players also contributed significantly during the championship run. Ondrej Palat scored three game-winning goals and finished plus-14. Yanni Gourde was plus-12 while two of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s three goals proved to be game winners. Add in the likes of Pat Maroon, Luke Schhenn and Zach Bogosian and it’s easy to see how Tampa Bay’s depth was crucial.

“The beauty of our team was everybody chipping in,” Point says.

The Bucs have their share of role players as well. William Gholston doesn’t get much pub, but he’s a key factor on a fierce rushing defense. Ryan Smith leads the way for Keith Armstrong’s coverage units. Offensive line anchor Ryan Jensen exudes physicality up front.


Team captain Steven Stamkos wasn’t on the ice for very long, but he made his presence count in Game 3 with a breathtaking goal that inspired a 5-2 victory. The reaction on the Lightning bench was both immediate and captivating.

“Even though Stamkos didn’t play, except for the best two minutes of hockey you’ll ever see in the playoffs, I’m at a loss for words how much he means to us,” Hedman said.

Imagine if Brady shakes loose for a critical 5-yard TD run to key a big win for the Bucs, absorbing a jarring hit on the way to the end zone. The effect on his teammates would be dramatic.


Carlton Davis

Final tally for the final series against the Stars: Tampa Bay 7 power-play goals, Dallas 1.

Looking back, that was probably the biggest difference in the matchup. The Stars often struggled to even set up in the offensive zone with a manpower advantage while the Lightning moved the puck quickly and decisively from the points to down low.

The special teams of the Bucs have rebounded from a poor Game 1 effort and Tampa Bay needs to sustain that level the rest of the way. Ryan Succop is living up to his reputation as a reliable kicker and that blocked punt in Denver set an aggressive tone for the visitors.


No NHL team has more offensive firepower than the Lightning, especially when Stamkos is in the lineup, but Jon Cooper wants to win those 2-1 games. Check out his demeanor after the Lightning prevail 5-4 … he’s not happy.

“We used to be a team where it wasn’t good enough to beat you 3-0,” he says. “We had to beat you 9-0. We had to change that attitude.”

The Bucs are finally returning to their roots as a defensive-minded club that imposes its will and capitalizes on short fields and takeaways. While Brady commands most of the attention, it’s Todd Bowles and his marauders who will write the story of the 2020 Buccaneers.

11 Responses to “Studying The Blueprint”

  1. Dapostman Says:

    Offensive line will hold this team back from reaching the Super Bowl. They just aren’t good enough to make a deep playoff run. Playoffs? Yes I expect playoffs.

  2. JimBuc2 Says:

    I’m feelin’ it. Starting to believe again. Yeah, our Bucs will make SB history and park a Lomardi trophy next to the Lightning’s Stanley Cup. Tampa is for real. It’s good to be revelant again.
    Go Bucs!

  3. Bucs Fan Since ‘76 Says:

    This article is a perfect example of top shelf sports journalism. No hysteria or gaslighting. Just solid analysis, analogies, and story telling. Bravo Ira!

  4. Jerry Jones Says:

    “F’ing A Cotton, F’ing A…”

  5. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Meanwhile if the Rays could pull off a World Series Win the pressure truly builds on the Bucs. Can they make it three for three?

    Hollywood wouldn’t write a story like this…it’s too unbelievable. But if the two amigos Brady and Gronk reunite..if the Buc defense turns into beach beasts…if the city has a chance to win the title in three major their own crib?

    It’s amazing the story is still even possible. Let’s see if the Rays hold up their part of the bargain.

  6. Rico 210 Says:

    @stpetebuc I agree big homie. Need the Rays to bring it home. Bucs keep improving and lookout world!
    Alas the only thing I’m bothered by are the penalties. Gotta clean that up. The Lightning didn’t have a lot of them. I watched the Finals.
    I predicted 12-4. Let’s get to 3-1 first. Have… So… Much… Sh!t to talk when I’m at work all things Tampa
    Go Lighting
    Go Rays
    Go Bucs
    Go Bucs

  7. Rico 210 Says:

    Damn Ira, my fault. Excellent article! I’m so riled up Sage.
    Go Bucs

  8. Sumosam Says:

    I’m stoked for this defense. The lightning played great D when they had to. That’s why they are enjoying the cup.

  9. Buczilla Says:

    Awesome stuff Ira!

  10. «Delusional Intelligence» Says:

    “Bucs Fan Since ‘76 Says:
    October 3rd, 2020 at 9:02 am

    This article is a perfect example of top shelf sports journalism. No hysteria or gaslighting. Just solid analysis, analogies, and story telling. Bravo Ira!”

    Well said, indeed no shock & awe tabloid journalism here. Well done as usual Ira! If there was a Pulitzer Prize for sports journalism, you’d be nominated yearly!

  11. TampaTown Says:

    Wow this was a really well written article. This is why you’re the Sage.