'Ning dynasty?

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:06 PM ET


 The Calgary Flames have certainly displayed the fire of a champion during this year's playoff run.

 As for their foes in the Stanley Cup final?

 Well, it's flash that makes the Tampa Bay Lightning a would-be king in the NHL.

 For those still getting to know the Lightning -- including the Flames themselves -- the Eastern Conference champions gave quite the eyeful last night in Game 2.

 It was all there in black and white, even if it took a while to get into gear during the Lightning's 4-1 triumph at the St. Pete Times Forum.

 With all its skill, the Lightning offers definite reminders of the Edmonton Oilers of the early '80s, who eventually put all their potential together to win four Stanley Cups in five years.

 Just think about the promise the Lightning has after the club's quick rise in the past few years.

 It's no coincidence that rise has come with the blossoming of a group of highly skilled young players.

 Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Ruslan Fedotenko ...

 Wow!

 It's rare in today's clutch-and-grab, watered-down NHL a team boasts so many high-tempo talents.

 To augment the quick rise is a solid support staff -- Dan Boyle, Tim Taylor, Darryl Sydor, Cory Stillman and the venerable Dave Andreychuk -- that has helped take the young guns to this Stanley Cup series perhaps one or two seasons early.

 But it was the budding superstars last night who helped square the series at a game apiece.

 Richards, 24, has proven he's no surprise pick for Team Canada for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

 His poise and quickness in traffic has been put on centre stage all playoffs and, last night, he checked into the Stanley Cup series with a game-turning two minutes.

 First, he pounced on a loose puck and quickly shuffled it past Miikka Kiprusoff for the Lightning's second goal, then he pulled the puck from out of his skates and made a perfect feed to a pinching Dan Boyle for the team's third goal.

 Then there's Lecavalier, also 24, and the undisputed player of the game last night.

 Don Cherry butchered his name at least twice last night on Coach's Corner. But bet Wayne Gretzky gets it right this summer when the injury replacements are named for Team Canada.

 Lecavalier, along with Philadelphia's Keith Primeau, has shown in these playoffs he deserves to be on Team Canada.

 Lecavalier made a brilliant move that beat super-checker Stephane Yelle. The young Bolt bounced the puck off the back of the net before setting up the Lightning's first goal.

 Plus, he showed patience in feeding St. Louis for the fourth goal of the evening.

 Meanwhile, Fedotenko, 25, opened the scoring for the Lightning and has picked these playoffs as his coming-out party.

 The playoffs also have been a coming-out party for Fredrik Modin after years of post-season futility. At 29, he could still have an outstanding career ahead of him.

 Point-man Pavel Kubina, a 27-year-old who was much-maligned prior to coach John Tortorella's appearance in Tampa, has put a measure of solid defence in his game that has enhanced his offensive skills.

 And although he didn't bring his 'A' game yesterday, St. Louis, the regular-season scoring champion and leading point-getter in these playoffs, is the spark for the Lightning.

 All in all, the Bolts have a bounty of talented youngsters with whom they could ride to many future Stanley Cup championships.

 The Flames just hope they don't start that this spring.


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