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Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning capture Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division titles

Last time we won the East, it was 2003-04 *eyes emoji*

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat (18) celebrates his third period goal with teammates against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

It may have been bumpy near the end, but the Tampa Bay Lightning complete a near wire-to-wire season at the top of the Atlantic Division, and have now won their first division title in this new era. [Raw Charge]

Now that the Lightning have the division title, two things are locked in — their first-round opponent and home-ice advantage. If the Lightning were to make it into the semi-finals or conference finals, they would have home ice advantage in addition to home ice in the first round. They also have their first round opponent locked in with the New Jersey Devils.

Can someone remind me if 2003-04 was a good year?

Florida Panthers 4 - 2 Boston Bruins

The NHL released the schedules for the first round, including Tampa Bay’s with both scenarios (if we play Boston or New Jersey). [Raw Charge]

The Tampa Bay Lightning organization was kind enough to send out these PDFs of the two different schedule scenarios, hinging upon whether the Boston Bruins win the division with a victory of any kind, or whether the Bolts win with a Bruins’ loss of any kind. Either way, it all begins on Thursday, April 12.

Matt’s 2017-18 Lightning Superlatives winners is fun and has so many nuggets of information. [Raw Charge]

All right, I couldn’t give Gourde another award (because in all honesty he is the surprise contributor), and I had to get Russian Bieber in here. However, the real surprise that a lot of us were not expecting was J.T. Miller, who burst onto the Tampa Bay scene with an offensive jolt.

At the other end of the ice, who are the New Jersey Devils? [All About the Jersey]

There was not really a “preferable” playoff opponent. If the Devils won on Saturday and moved up to third place, it’s a match-up against a Pittsburgh team that is coming off two Championships and played way better against New Jersey in their previous two meetings (which were 1-1) than the previous two.

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch got caught going to the penalty box far too many times, and as a result lost 4-2 to the Binghamton Devils in a wild game. [Auburn Pub]

“They had six or seven power plays. We had six or maybe eight power plays,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “I think our power play was not good enough. I think our PK was OK. We can’t go into the playoffs taking five or six penalties a game, for sure.”

Weatherman gives his thoughts after the game.

Unfortunately, the Crunch are finding ways of making this a far too regular occcurance. They need to find a way to keep penalties down. [Syracuse]

Syracuse came into the contest having been called for the most minors (415) and surrendered the most power-play chances (351) in the AHL. Syracuse coach Ben Groulx and the players are aware of this troubling trend, naturally, having harped on it all season.

Alex Barre-Boulet scored a hat-trick to give the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada a 2-0 series lead in their second round series against the Moncton Wildcats. [Bolt Prospects]

Barre-Boulet claimed his second straight First Star honor, following up a two-goal Game 1 outing with a hat trick in Game 2, as the Armada buried Moncton with nine goals. Barre-Boulet opened the scoring with a pair of goals in the 1st and then completed the hat trick later in the 2nd period to give the Armada a commanding 5-0 lead. The series shifts to Monction on Tuesday night for Game 3.

The Game

Goalies... Who do you trust and who do you not? [ESPN]

Greg Wyshynski, senior writer: Jonathan Quick has two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a .921 career playoff save percentage. No, it didn’t go all that well for Quick in his previous postseason with the Los Angeles Kings, but if I had one game I needed to win, Quick is one of the few goaltenders I would wager on to win it on his own. But the question isn’t about making a gamble, it’s about which goalie you trust. I trust that Quick could steal a game.

For the second year in a row the most recent first-overall pick has helped his team qualify for the playoffs. Nico Hischier says he’s ready to take another step. [NHL dot com]

“With Nico, you’re talking about a 19-year-old kid who could be as good defensively as (New Jersey forward) Travis Zajac and that’s why he’s been able to play in the role he’s had,” Hynes said. “He’s a guy we don’t shelter. Maybe in the beginning of the year we did a little, but this guy has been rolled out there and done it time and again.”

On the flip side of the end of the season, we see which players will be retiring. [NBC Sports]

This post focuses on four noteworthy names who’ve made it clear that their careers are over: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Patrick Sharp, and Radim Vrbata. All four players enjoyed distinguished runs, and while they finished things up past their primes, they didn’t make the mistake of hanging around for several sad seasons, either.

The playoffs are set! Who are your picks?

Matt Esteves and I recorded a Charged Up: A Raw Charge podcast the night of the FLAvsBOS game and you will not believe some of our (my) takes for how the first round is going to go.

Highlight of the Night: The Florida Panthers did this to the Bruins a lot in this game.