NHL Playoff Bracket if the season ended today for the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the most consistent teams in the Eastern Conference, even if the NHL Playoff Bracket doesn’t list them in a top spot.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Lightning have 78 points, and they are on pace to finish the year with between 95 and 96 at their current rate. But don’t think this relatively low number (when compared to the top teams in the Atlantic Division) fool you, even if it means a lower seeding in the NHL Playoff Bracket.

Since they are in the first wild card spot, the Lightning would not play a member of their own division if the season ended today. Instead, the New York Rangers would be their opponent. But because the Rangers are tied with the Florida Panthers for second in the race for the Eastern Conference’s top seed, and neither are far behind the Boston Bruins, a potential Lightning-Rangers matchup may not be the case come late April.

NHL Playoff Bracket slots the Rangers vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning

Let’s assume everything remains as is during the last handful of regular season games, and the Lightning play the Rangers in the First Round. Despite New York’s sheer talent and their recent run, the Lightning could be the best overall wild card team in the entire NHL, and yep, even better than the stacked Vegas Golden Knights and the surging Nashville Predators.

They have recently won three straight games, with one of those wins coming against the Rangers. Tampa also beat the Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers, and they outscored all three of those previous opponents 18-6. Maybe that means the Lightning are getting hot, and if that’s the case, then neither New York, Florida, nor Boston would be fortunate to play them. 

No, Tampa still hasn’t solved their inability to keep pucks out of the net despite allowing just 2.0 goals per in their previous three games. But they are also fifth in the NHL with 235 goals scored, so if they can outscore an opponent and stay hot throughout this final month, then this is a wild card team that may set itself up for a deep playoff run. 


(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)