Will Tampa Bay Lightning join the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup playoffs?

The Dallas Stars are headed to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 20 years, accomplishing the feat by taking down one of the short-odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup: Las Vegas Golden Knights.

“I’ve been in a couple of rinks where we’ve clinched to go to the finals, and it erupts,” interim coach Rick Bowness said.

“Tonight, you’re so excited, you don’t even notice… All you’re thinking about is your team.”

The Stars pulled off the impressive upset on Monday night when they defeated the Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime. However, the most impressive part of their run is the fact that they did in in five games, taking the series convincingly 4-1.

The Stars began their playoffs by eliminating one of four Canadian teams to make the 2019-20 NHL playoffs: The Calgary Flames. Dallas edged the Flames 4-2 in the series.

In the second round, the Stars faced ex-Toronto Maple Leafs player Nazeem Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche. Kadri and the Avs gave the Stars a right run for their money, taking the Stars all the way to game 7 before succumbing to the plucky Stars 5-4 in overtime.

Going into the Western Conference finals, the NHL odds were stacked heavily against the Dallas Stars against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, but it didn’t faze them at all. They got off to a bright start by winning the first game of the series 1-0.

Although they dropped the second game of the series, they bounced back with a win in game 3 last Thursday, and from there onwards they never looked back.

In-game 6, Canadians were instrumental in Dallas’ win. Victoria, BC native Jamie Benn opened the scoring in game 5 against the Golden Knights, it marked the third game in a row that Benn scored for the Stars in the series. Benn also had an assist in the game.

The Stars kept the pressure upon the Golden Knights, with Ontario natives Cory Perry and Tyler Sequin leading the way with the most shots on goal, combining for 7. As well, Vancouver native Blake Comeau had three shots on goal.

The Dallas Stars are yet to find out who they’ll face in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders are headed into game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals with Tampa Bay leading 3-2.

By the best sportsbooks, The Lightning are favored to advance into the Stanley Cup, but that’s not a given. The resurrected 2019-20 NHL playoffs have been anything but straightforward, to the delight of fans that were starved of all sports during the four-month-long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One has to look at TV ratings just to get a sense of how much sports were missed, and nowhere more so than in Canada, which loves its hockey.

Indeed, fans in Canada have been showing up in forceful numbers for not only the NHL but also the NBA, since both leagues returned to action in August.

Sportsnet reported a total audience of 10.7 million viewers combined when both leagues restarted, which represents nearly 30% of the country’s population.

Live sports were consumed across Sportsnet’s TV channels: CBC, CityTV, Sportsnet Radio Network, and corresponding digital platforms SN Now and NHL Live – the latter of which contributed audiences in the millions over the first few weekends.

A lot of those impressive figures came down to mainly Ontario viewers tuning in to watch Toronto’s two teams: the Maple Leafs and Raptors in their respective contests.

Now that both Toronto teams have seen their postseasons come to an abrupt end, however, along with the sheer fact that there are fewer games from both the NHL and NBA to follow as each competition moves into the final lap, the figures are dropping dramatically. That along with the start of the 2020 NFL regular season now competing for audiences, drawing viewers away from the NHL Stanley Cup and NBA finals.

That said, the 2020-21 NHL and NBA seasons are slated to follow shortly after the conclusion of both the Stanley Cup and NBA Championships. It won’t be long before the nation tunes in again in full force for another NHL and NBA season.

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