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NHL Playoff Race: Lightning eliminated; Crunch down to one

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With Toronto’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Lightning have been eliminated.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The past 15 or so games saw a valiant effort by the Lightning to get back into the race. Ultimately, their January struggles put them into a hole that proved too big to completely pull out of. They were close, though. A three game losing streak against Toronto, Washington, and Arizona was ultimately the nail in the coffin. Pull one win out of those three games, and the Lightning are still in the hunt on the last day of the season.

If it’s against Toronto, the Lightning would have been in a position of being one win away against the Buffalo Sabres today.

But alas, the Lightning have been eliminated. It was a good run. Time to enjoy this last game of the season against the Sabres. The players can go home. Rest up. Have a full summer to recover and train properly after playing so many games in playoffs over the past two seasons.

In the meantime, we have the Syracuse Crunch to cheer for as they head towards the playoffs. The Crunch will clinch a playoff spot it St. John’s loses in any manner or the Crunch get a point. The next opportunity to clinch will be this afternoon as St. John’s travels to take on the Utica Comets.

In short, Syracuse clinches a playoff berth today if:

  1. St. John's loses in any fashion to Utica
  2. Utica loses in regulation or a shot out to St. John's

To clarify,

For the offseason, we have the expansion draft to endlessly speculate about. We have the NHL Entry Draft after that. And then free agency including all of the restricted free agent contracts that Steve Yzerman has to deal with.

Lastly, thank you to all of you fans that have stuck it out to the end. I’ll leave you with some videos of moments to remember fondly from this season.