Game 82: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-2 in their last regular season game.

I sort of feel like I should wax poetic about them making playoffs for the first time in years. Or because they've tied they've tied their franchise best number of wins in a season at 46. (The last time they did that, they won the Stanley Cup in 2004.) Or, because they're playing a team in the first round that's going to be distracted by whether their captain will be coming back or not.

Well, here's a little food for thought. The Lightning in 2004 finished their season with a 46-22-8-6 (W-L-T-OTL) record and 106 points in the standings. Though, they were top of the Eastern Conference and second overall in the NHL that season, too This season, they finished with a 46-25-11 (W-L-OTL) record and a 103 points in the standings. That leaves them seventh overall in the NHL, and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference.

Still, nothing to complain about, really. Last season, the team ended with a 34-36-5 record. And the season before that, it was 24-40-8. So even if they get swept in the first round (which they won't), they've still come a long, long way.

For the Lightning, this game versus the Hurricanes had no real meaning. Not for them, anyways. But they still came out and put up a good showing, for which I thank them.

For the Hurricanes, this game had a lot of meaning. They had to win this game to make it into playoffs. So the beginning of a genuine division rivalry could be started with this loss.

This game also had a lot of meaning for New York Rangers fans. If the Lightning won, they would be in playoffs. If they lost, then Carolina would make it in. We all know how that went.

Raw Charge was invaded by Rangers fans for the game, and they made this game important to us. For which I'd like to thank them. What might've turned out to be a throwaway game for a Lightning fan became a playoff game. They were fun, and it made watching the game fun.

The playoff schedules are expected to be announced late this evening. The Lightning will be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, and that series will start either Wednesday or Thursday. Sidney Crosby is not expected to be back for Game 1 at this point.

The Raw Charge game threads will open an hour before the game during playoffs, so stop in and say hi. Or stick around and keep us company. It's going to be a fun and crazy ride!

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