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It's an anniversary season for the Lightning and a goal that still can be achieved in 2015-16

Tampa Bay's first playoff appearance happened 20 years ago.

Tampa goaltender deflects shot from Philadelphia's Anatoli Semenov.
Tampa goaltender deflects shot from Philadelphia's Anatoli Semenov.
Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

There's a fact about the 2015-16 Lightning season that I haven't seen tossed around much in coverage of the club so far this season. Perhaps it has been written about and I've missed the articles, it's also possible that coverage of the moment and the Lightning at current has more bearing in coverage that team history. Whatever the case, this season is an anniversary for the organization: In 1995-96, the Tampa Bay Lightning made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

There's a lot of drama that's passed with the club since that first playoff experience: Darren Puppa's back (a contributing factor in the Bolts first-round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the '96 NHL playoffs), Chris Gratton and the fuzzy-fax incident, ownership issues which have twice helped thwart playoff viability of the club for several years at a time; studs and duds, Vinny and Torts, #DanEllisProblems, and the abrupt divorce from Martin St. Louis.

Still, the Lightning has made the playoffs eight total times in franchise history starting with that first berth in 1996. That total over that 20 year span is one more playoff berth than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have three more playoff berths in the franchise history, the last one coming in 2007. That's 11 total playoff chances in 39 years for the Bucs compared to 8 in 23 years of play for the Lightning.

Back to the moment; the Lightning are 3 games from reaching the mid-way point of the season (game #41), and as it stands they're 3 points out of wild card status in the Eastern Conference and 4 points from a solid playoff spot (the top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs). While that's not a monumental amount to achieve, the Bolts inconsistent play is not helping things along. Tampa Bay went 7-5-1 in December but has gone 2-2-1 during their homestand that ends tonight against the Minnesota Wild.