Lightning Round: Tampa Bay moves into second place with victory

There is still a ways to go, but catching the Leafs is a good thing.

With their win against the Colorado Avalanche the Tampa Bay Lightning increased their point total to 72, drawing them level with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Due to the fact that they hit 72 points in 53 games compared to the Leafs 54, the Bolts are technically in second place now.

Neither team is likely to catch the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the division (although epic collapses aren’t unheard of in Boston sports history). Still, locking up the second spot in the division would give the Lightning home ice advantage in their first round of the playoffs (likely to be against the Leafs). With the way the Lightning have played at home this year (21-4-2) that could give them the edge they need to advance.

In the Eastern Conference, the Lightning are currently 4th, trailing Boston, the Carolina Hurricanes (78 points), and New Jersey Devils (75 points) with all four teams having played 53 games.  The higher up the Lightning finish in the conference the better their chances would be to have home ice should they keep advancing. If they win the first round they will likely face the Bruins in the second (thanks bracket system!). After that, though, it would be nice to finish as high as possible so that they can possibly have home ice in the Conference Finals.

Hopefully they don’t give those points back tonight against the Coyotes.

Lightning / NHL News:

Lightning win in shootout over Avalanche [Raw Charge]

It wasn’t the best start, but the Lightning played better as the game progressed and found a way to pull out the victory.

Exploring some potential trade acquisitions [Raw Charge]

Luke Schenn and Tyler Bertuzzi have been linked to the Lightning in trade talks, so we took a little deeper look at them.

Will Brandon Hagel’s breakout season bring a long-term extension? [Tampa Bay Times]

It has been a few months since Julien BriseBois has handed out a long-term contract. He’s got to be itching to sign another one.

Anthony Cirelli finding his two-way groove [Lightning Insider]

If Tony Two Goals can find his scoring touch then the Lightning are a step closer to the depth that was a hallmark in their Stanley Cup runs the last three seasons.

Ranking the top 10 drafted NHL goalie prospects [The Athletic]

Hugo Alnefelt didn’t make the top 10, but he was an honorable mention!

Joel Martin feels honored as a Black coach in the ECHL [The Hockey News]

Ready for an uninteresting fact? Joel Martin was the first hockey player I ever interviewed for Raw Charge. I spoke with him for a few minutes back when Kalamazoo was the ECHL affiliate for the Bolts. He was super nice to a nervous “reporter”.

Alex Ovechkin stepping away to attend to a family matter [ESPN]

The Capitals announced that their captain would be away from the team for the “foreseeable future” as he attends to a matter concerning a family member’s health. Thing will become extremely complicated if he has to return to Russia as there are currently no flights from North America to Russia.

Columbus is looking for a pretty decent return for their pending free agent defenseman, Vladislav Gavrikov. That’s a cost that probably takes the Lightning out of consideration.