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The Atlantic Division dominates the home stretch of the Tampa Bay Lightning season

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A horse race at the top of the division and a wild card battle at the bottom highlight the home stretch of the season.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The days of scoreboard watching have arrived. All of three games are left in the month of February for the Tampa Bay Lightning; two of them will be played back-to-back this weekend to end the current road trip through the Western Conference. Three games are the gateway to the final stretch of the season.

From March until the season finale on April 11th, 19 games will be played with only four contests against non-Atlantic Division opponents. To name names, the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils are those teams and all will visit Amalie Arena.

The remaining schedule for the Bolts - almost specifically the 15 in-division games - will be a quest to secure the 2015 Atlantic Division title and jockeying for prime playoff seeding with the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings.

We've mentioned it on Raw Charge a few times that Les Habs and the Wings have games in-hand on the Lightning and that means they have more opportunities to overtake and distance themselves from the Bolts. Montreal leads the division with 79 points as of this morning (after 58 games played) and Detroit is in third with 74 points after 56 games played. There will be a few head-to-head games between the Lightning and

There are three games left against Montreal directly, with two of them at Bell Centre in Montreal (March 10th and 30th) and the other will be played in between those dates (March 16) in Tampa.

As for the Red Wings and there four games in-hand, there are two remaining contests between the clubs (March 20 at Amalie Arena and March 28 at Joe Louis Arena).

If the season ended today, the Lightning would face Detroit in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs while Montreal would face their old rival, the Boston Bruins. The season doesn't end today, though, and that's where things get interesting.

Boston has been a far cry from where they usually stand in the NHL with only 65 points in 57 games played. They occupy the last wild card berth in the Eastern Conference... Boston? As a wild card team? That sounds so wrong. It's almost as wrong as Mike Millbury returning to coaching, but not quite. While teams like Buffalo (one game remaining versus Tampa), Toronto (two games remaining) and most Metro Division bottom dwellers don't have any sort of shot at coming back to clinch that wild card berth, while the Philadelphia Flyers in the Meto and Ottawa Senators (who face TB once down the home stretch) in the Atlantic have the slightest of slim chances for the playoffs... the Florida Panthers are in striking distance. Florida beat Montreal in the shootout last night and is a single point behind Boston in the standings.

The Lightning are positioned, with thanks to the schedule, to either enable or play the spoiler to either club; six of the remaining games on the schedule are against the B's (March 12 at Boston, March 22 and the season finale at Amalie Arena on April 11) and the Panthers (March 1 at BB&T Center, March 24 in Tampa, and April 4 in Sunrise).