Quick Strikes: The Tampa Bay Lightning are fighting to make the playoffs

The Bolts are riding a four-game winning streak, Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to excel, and Victor Hedman is rewriting the Lightning record books one milestone at a time.

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning secured two important points as they defeated the Ottawa Senators last night. “Brayden Point (bless his Albertan heart) continued his spectacular play since becoming the top center by opening the scoring off a rebound generated by a Jake Dotchin wrist shot that bounced right towards Point’s stick. The rookie has been wonderful for the Lightning all season and has gotten better after every game.” [Raw Charge]

Alright, now it’s time to talk about the playoff picture.

Take a deep breath.

You ready?

Okay, look at the standings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are legitimately fighting for a playoff spot - and they’re so close you can almost taste it.

The Lightning have the same number of points as the New York Islanders, but the Islanders have more wins in regulation and over-time (versus shootout wins). If the Bolts can defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow, they will move past the Islanders and keep the Maple Leafs off their tail.

A few months ago the Lightning were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. So how did we get here? One key contributor is Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s been incredible since taking over as the starting goaltender.

Victor Hedman has also put together a phenomenal season with a career-high 59 points in 66 games, including the overtime winner last night. “You have to be a threat. You have to let the opposition know you're going to be a shooter. That's going to open up other plays and create scrambles in front of the net. For me it's been attacking mode. I take responsibility and produce. We need that down the stretch.” [NHL]

The Game

Our friends down in South Florida did us a favor and beat the Maple Leafs 7-2, keeping them behind us in the playoff race. It also resulted in one of the most hilarious game recaps I’ve ever read from Lightning prospect expert and Maple Leafs fan elseldo. “Then they stopped scoring and even pulled their goalie for like 10 minutes, but the Leafs still lost 7-2. Here are some tweets, yes I’m lazy, whatever, I shoved my sidewalk 5 times today and my back hurts.” [Pension Plan Puppets]

The Boston Bruins might actually be Stanley Cup contenders. “But the Bruins are starting to come on strong at the right time of year as everything is beginning to come together. They might not win it all, but they’re also probably not a team anybody wants to play at the moment.” [NBC Sports]

The Florida Panthers should shut down Aaron Ekblad for the rest of the season. “Ekblad has as many concussions as seasons played in the NHL so far in his career, and that should terrify the Panthers. He’s a stud. He had one of the most productive starts to a career ever for a teenage defenseman. His third season, though, stands out as his weakest to date. The Panthers have to hope the head and neck injuries aren’t starting to take their toll already and affect his play.” [The Hockey News]