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Lightning begin quest to defend Stanley Cup as season opens against Blackhawks

Brayden Point
Posted at 7:57 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 18:42:53-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A little less than four months ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were triumphantly hoisting the Stanley Cup after beating the Dallas Stars in six games, but now the page turns to a new season.

Tampa Bay begins the 2021 season and their defense of Lord Stanley's Cup at home against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night.

"Once you taste champagne out of the Stanley Cup, you want to do it again," Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said.

This year will be different than last year. With no bubble, realigned divisions and a 56-game season, players and coaches are adapting once again to try to make this a successful and COVID-19 free season.

The team started an abbreviated training camp earlier this month and less than two weeks later finds itself thrust into the regular season.

Some familiar faces will be missing from the team this season: Kevin Shattenkirk (signed with Anaheim), Carter Verhaeghe (signed with Florida), Braydon Coburn (traded to Ottawa) and Cedric Paquette (traded to Ottawa) are gone. Additionally, Nikita Kucherov is out for the year with a hip injury.

Fans will not be allowed at Lightning games for the foreseeable future, but the Bolts do start the season with four consecutive home games, two against Chicago followed by two against the Stars in a Stanley Cup Finals rematch.

Wednesday night's puck drop is at 8 p.m.