The Lightning have climbed their way back into the thick of playoff contention. Can they continue that to make a playoff run?

Lightning Storm

Just over a week ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Arizona Coyotes at home to extend a three game losing streak. At that point, it appeared the Lightning were kaput. Since then, they’ve been like a summer afternoon storm in Florida: Out of nowhere and with a vengeance. They’ve rattled off three straight Due to their recent success, they have become somewhat of a media darling. They are the team that “no one wants to play if they get in the playoffs”. Yes, they had a fantastic 5-4 comeback win in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.

It was a thrilling game that had me amped up for the greatest time of year aka the NHL Playoffs. However, I do think some are letting that skew their view of this team. As it stands, they are 3 points back of the Bruins with seven games left (they do have a game in hand on the B’s). Four of those seven games are at home. Three of their remaining games are against teams without a prayer (Detroit, Buffalo, and Dallas). Four of them will be absolute battles though. They have two games remaining against the Montreal Canadiens who are fighting to hold off the Ottawa Senators for a division crown. One game is in Boston against the Bruins. You have to assume that will be a must win. As the Predators found out last night, that is a rabid building against a rabid team right now. Two days after visiting Boston, the Lightning must go to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs who sit just four points ahead of Tampa in the standings and are also desperately clinging to a playoff spot. On the last full week of the NHL regular season, the Lightning’s schedule looks like this:

That road trip is like going from a wolf trap to a bear trap to a firing squad right now. The schedule alone makes a playoff berth an incredibly tall mountain for Tampa Bay to climb.

The other reason I think they will run out of steam is that they have been a bit of a one trick pony in March. Star forward Nikita Kucherov has 22 points in 14 games this month. He has nearly one third of his team’s goals (38). How much longer can he carry this team? That’s a tall task for any player, especially with that schedule they have coming up. Steven Stamkos *might* be returning, but you can’t possibly expect him to be his normal self after missing 3/4 of the season. So, despite the hype around the Bolts, they will miss the playoffs after starting the season with sky high expectations.

Clipped Wings

Last night, the Detroit Red Wings were mathematically eliminated from the postseason. That means, for the first time in my life, the Winged Wheel won’t make an appearance in the playoffs. They had a streak of 25 straight playoff appearances that included six conference championships and four Stanley Cups. Lately, those playoff appearances have been very brief which made for an embarrassing situation for Detroit in the 2016 playoffs. To commemorate qualify for the postseason 25 seasons in a row, they decided to put the dumb graphic below at center ice for their series against the Lightning.

It looked amazing as the Wings got absolutely whipped in five games against Tampa Bay.

The Yzerman/Shanahan/Lidstrom/Chelios/*insert other great player*/*insert other great player*/*repeat* era of Detroit Red Wings hockey is long gone. Though that was probably clear from the three straight first round exits. A part of me is sad. I grew up hating those teams, but they were a perennial powerhouse. You have to respect that no matter what team you’re a fan of. Not to mention this was their last year at historic Joe Louis Arena. Then again, their fans have seen enough winning for two lifetimes, and they are moving to a publicly funded arena called Little Caesar’s Arena so maybe they deserve this. No offense to our sponsor*.

*Not our sponsor.

Lack Gets Injured

During a Red Wings-Hurricanes game on Monday night, Detroit forward Andreas Anathasiou drove the net in OT to score and win the game for his team. In the process, Hurricane forward Victor Rask shoved Anathasiou into goalie Eddie Lack. Anathasiou’s shoulder went straight into Lack’s head, and Lack’s head jammed right into his spine. It was reviewed and deemed a good goal, but Lack lay there for quite a while getting attended to by the medical staff.

Both teams remained on the ice to make sure Lack was okay. Eventually, he was taken off on a stretcher and brought to the hospital.

It was an ominous scene as the Canes’ broadcast was extremely quiet. Classy move by the Red Wings to remain on the ice, and Eddie Lack was later diagnosed with just a neck strain.  He’ll be out for the foreseeable future so Carolina’s slim playoff hopes rest on veteran Cam Ward in net now.

P.S. What a dumb move by Rask to hammer a player into his own goalie. That’s a play guys make far to often that makes less than zero sense. It happens more than you’d think, and @BarstoolJordie had a nice article on this stupid epidemic.

 

3 Stars of the Week

3rd Star- Staal Snipe

Eric Staal is the only Wild player having a good month. File this #bardown snipe under “Oddly Satisfying”.

2nd Star- Hall Blenders Hellebuyk

That was a dirty display of stick handling by Hall, but he is single handedly murdering New Jersey’s draft positioning.

1st Star- Old School Hockey

This was from the NCAA Hockey Tournament this past weekend. That’s classic NHL Hitz. I love it. I don’t know which North Dakota player that was, but he’s got that highlight the rest of his life. No matter what else he does in his hockey career, he put a man through the glass.

That’s a wrap on this week. Check back in a week to see how totally wrong I was about the Lightning. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

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