The work continues for the Tampa Bay Lightning. For this team, there is no time to stop to celebrate.
For many of the Lightning players, they didn't know there were in playoffs until they walked off the ice last night with a win.
"I actually found out walking off the ice when they put it on the Jumbotron," said Tyler Johnson. "That's the first time I heard about it."
Unlike in baseball, there was no champagne celebration.
"I would love to adapt that [baseball] celebration for hockey here," Ben Bishop said with a smile. "We'll have to work on it."
"I guess it's just been the tradition in hockey that you just don't celebrate it unless you win a championship," said Steven Stamkos. "Were guys happy and have a couple beers last night? Absolutely."
For head coach Jon Cooper, it took a text showing the standings with an X indicating the Lightning had clinched for the reality of it to set in.
"Last night was just a kind of, a night of a little bit of... excitement was definitely an emotion, but relief," Cooper said.
The Lightning believe they are ready for the playoff grind because of the most adverse year this franchise has ever faced. They've gone through three captains in less than a year, losing Vinny Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos for three months and most recently, Marty St. Louis.
Through it all, this team never 'blinked.'
"Focus on winning. Focus on that and everything else kind of just got pushed aside," Johnson said.
The Lightning are in, but not ready to start the Playoffs or their Playoff beards just yet.
"This is like a whole season," Johnson said, rubbing his light stubble.
"Radko shaved this morning," Bishop joked, looking across the room to Radko Gudas and his full beard.
The Lightning are hoping to see a full set of long beards when the Playoff run comes to an end with the "Raising of the Cup" in June.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?