NHL Bubble Recap

Story posted October 2, 2020 in CommRadio, Sports by Maclain Young

After two months of nonstop action, the wild experiment that was the NHL bubble has come to an end. The sport became the first to crown a champion amidst the pandemic, but was the bubble a success? 

Overall, the bubble had everything one could ask for. There were compelling playoff matchups, tons of drama, as well as heartwarming stories.

The action began back in early August when the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes kicked off the play-in round, which featured 16 teams battling for the eight remaining playoff spots. These teams played best-of-five game series which featured exciting storylines.

The big storyline to come from the play-in round was the magic of the Montreal Canadiens. The team came into the bubble as the lowest seeded team in the Eastern Conference and knocked off the yearly contender that is the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This Montreal squad kept up some of its great play into the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they faced the number one seeded Philadelphia Flyers. However, this Flyers team was able to fend off the Canadiens, beating them out in six games.

Speaking of the Flyers, they held one of, if not the most touching stories of the bubble. Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer in December of 2019. 

No one expected Lindblom to return to the ice this season or possibly at all.

In early July, Lindblom remarkably completed the treatment for his cancer. Then, on Sept. 3rd, less than nine months after being diagnosed, Lindblom returned to play in an elimination game against the Islanders. 

The entire hockey world rallied to support Lindblom in his amazing return to action.

There were plenty of other storylines to follow, like the New York Islanders making their first conference final since 1993 and the Blackhawks upsetting the high-flying Oilers in the play-in round. All of this occurred in a bubble kept safe and COVID-19 free by the NHL.

The eventual champion, the Tampa Bay Lightning, had to endure quite the journey to win the cup. They had to stay isolated from their families for six months, be tested for COVID-19 constantly, while still having to win 4 gruesome playoff series.

After being swept in the first round in last year's playoffs as the number one seed, the Lightning came into the bubble locked and loaded. Their first playoff game went five overtimes against the team they lost to last year, but they found a way to win. That continued to be the norm in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Tampa Bay lightning were the best team throughout the regular season and in the bubble. The NHL crowned their rightful champion this past Monday, marking an end to bubble hockey.

The cup was lifted, everyone stayed safe, and the NHL found a way to complete a season that seemed like a lost cause. As the first league to complete their 2019-2020 season, it's safe to say that the NHL should be proud of what it accomplished.

Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email macyoung21@gmail.com.