With their win last night, the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched home ice for the first round, leaving Tampa Bay destined for the 5th place slot heading into the postseason. The Bolts’ opponent is still up in the air though, since the Penguins and the Flyers are both tied with 104 points right now. Should both win their season finales, the Flyers will in the division and the Lightning will face the Penguins. Should the Penguins win and the Flyers lose (or some variation of that) the Penguins will win the division and the Lightning will face the Flyers in the first round.
Despite most of the playoff spots being decided, the Lightning have made it clear it is their main focus to end the season strong. They took a 4-2 decision over the Panthers last night, and close out the season tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tonight is a huge game for the Hurricanes. If they win tonight or the Rangers lose in regulation this afternoon, they make the playoffs. Being a higher-seeded team, the Lightning have needed to face many desperate teams in the last month or so. They have handled it as well as could be expected, grinding out games against teams with much more on the line.
Carolina has been on a tear to try and squeeze into the playoffs, going 8-1-1 in their last ten games. To slow them down, the Lightning will have to find a way to cool a red-hot Jeff Skinner. They will also have to find a way to penetrate Cam Ward, who has been playing spectacularly to backstop the team into 8th place.
While it is great to head into the post-season on a winning streak, there is one problem with the Lightning being so hot right now. All season long, they have been a very streaky team. If they are this hot now, it’s possible a losing streak is coming. If it lasts more than 3 games, that’s the Bolts’ season. Hopefully they will have the mentality to not let themselves have a letdown.
With their win last night, the Lightning broke the 100 point mark for the first time since they won the Stanley Cup. Fans are hoping that history will repeat itself, and that journey is only days away.