Lightning tries three peat. He is also a ranger.

Tampa Bay Lightning is a talented, rude and experienced playmaker. As two-time champions, they have a rare understanding of what it takes to carry a Stanley Cup pitch – twice in two years.

But Barclay Goodrow, the Rangers forward, is also talented, rude and experienced in the playoffs. And he is a two-time champion as well.

Goodrow played for Lightning in 2020 and 2021 and helped them win these cups. His experience at this winning venture is part of what prompted Rangers general manager Chris Durry to sign Goodrow as a free agent last summer. Goodrow signed a six-year, $ 21.8 million contract, in part to add an intangible but essential, profitable ingredient to a team preparing for a deep playoff run.

“That, of course, was a big part of it,” Drew said at the Rangers training facility on Tuesday, explaining why he wanted Goodrow, originally signed by the San Jose Sharks in 2014.

Drew added: “What he went through, what he went through in San Jose, on and off the ice, and what kind of player he was and what he could do not only to help in the playoffs but also in the regular season. Creating, building and maintaining a culture. He did everything for it. “

Starting Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, Goodrow will bring that experience and talent back to his old team when the Rangers open the Eastern Conference Finals against Lightning.

Goodrow, 29, is an example to young players and perhaps even some veterans of what it takes to win at the highest level. But he was equally attracted to the rangers for what they were building.

“I saw the potential and the trajectory that this team has,” Goodro said. “They performed well in the draft with so many talented players that you can see them coming into this playoffs and becoming great players. I saw that potential and it seemed to me that it suited me perfectly.”

Lightning has a wardrobe full of players like Goodrow, and one of them is defender Ryan McDonagh, a former Ranger supporter and the last captain of the Blue Shirts.

It is common to see fans at any Rangers game wearing a McDonagh T-shirt in vivid blue, white and red with a “C” on the chest. (The team has not named a captain since McDonagh traded in 2018). In Tampa, Florida, many Lightning fans still wear white and blue T-shirts with the name Goodrow.

They never exchanged for each other, but they shifted places, each bringing with them a character-based leadership, so valued in the NHL dressing rooms and on the ice.

Chris Craider, a veteran forward and Rangers leading scorer this season, suggests that McDonagh’s example helped build the foundation on which the current team is built. McDonagh helped the Crader’s coach, while Crader has helped many young players on the current list, all of whom have played important roles in moving the Rangers farther this year than expected.

“Mackie is one of the best people I have ever played with,” Craider said. “I learned a lot from him about how to be a professional, how to behave on and off the ice. Here are some of the things he did for our group while he was here. It’s a very, very long list. He was our example of what a ranger meant, and he was important to them and to all the success they have achieved. ”

The tough, left-back, 32-year-old McDonagh, has been playing for Rangers since 2010, when he moved to Lightning in 2018 as part of a major plan to upgrade the team with young players. The trade also helped to establish the Lightning team as it is.

“It was the first work that went forward to make us the team we are today,” said Lightning forward Alex Kilorn. “He is the leader in this team. When you think about the past playoff series, he was one of our best, if not the best, players.

McDonagh was also a big part of the Rangers ‘last team to reach the 2014 Stanley Cup final and play for the Rangers team, which was ruled out by Lightning in Game 7 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, shattering the Rangers’ hopes. Return to the finals and win the cup.

Craider called it “poetic” that the teams will meet each other in the same round this year. This time he will not have the McDonagh he relied on, but Tampa Bay will not have Goodrow, who might have stayed in Tampa if Lightning had more salary-cap space.

“We knew we would lose a few players who contributed to Stanley’s two cups and were greatly appreciated by me, the coaches, the other players and our fans,” said Lightning general manager Julien Brisbois. “We know it would be a loss. But we also went off-season with the idea of ​​trying to make a few more wins. “

The Goodrow-McDonnie rapprochement is one of a series of intriguing subplots, including a clash between two coaches who show deep respect for each other. Rangers Gerard Gallant was John Cooper’s assistant to Lightning for Canada at the 2017 World Cup. The series also features the NHL’s two best goalkeepers: Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevsky and Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin.

There is also the issue of relaxation against rhythm. Rangers play steadily for two weeks, basically one game every other day, from two challenging, seven-game series. This line of Konga games started on May 3rd.

Lightning, on the other hand, may have to expel rust. The Tampa Bay crushed the Florida Panthers in the second round and the players have not been in a competitive game since May 23. When they take the ice in the Garden on Wednesday, they will have eight days between games.

But for a team that has played more games over the past three seasons than any other team (the same goes for Goodrow), the rest was welcome.

“If there was one year we could take this break, it was this year,” Cooper said. “We are grateful that we received it. We deserved it. But now we have something to do with it. This is our next step. “

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