Lightning Round: The playoff picture is getting clearer

It's playoff scoreboard watching time!

Lightning Round: The playoff picture is getting clearer
Alex Killorn and Nick Paul chat as they head to the team's charter airplane.

With most teams down to just five or six games to play in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to come into focus. In the Atlantic the Bruins, Maple Leafs, and Lightning are in already. Over in the Metro it's the Hurricanes, Devils and Rangers that are selling postseason tickets.

The Wild Card battle is still up in the air with the Panthers and Islanders currently occupying the two spots with the Penguins just a spot out. The Capitals were just eliminated and the Red Wings are almost out as their tragic number is down to just two. Buffalo and Ottawa may hang around a little longer, but a 2-1 loss to the Panthers really cost Buffalo a golden opportunity.

Over in the Western Conference the top three teams in the Pacific are decided with the Golden Knights, Kings, and Oilers just jockeying for position at this point. The Stars and the Wild have guaranteed their postseason spots with the Avalanche currently in the third spot. However, the Jets and the Predators still have a shot at leapfrogging them. Winnipeg is in the second wild card spot as of right now with the surprising Kraken in the first spot.

Calgary is just two points behind the Jets and could sneak in despite a topsy-turvy season. In addition to the Wild Card race, the Western Conference has the intrigue of the race for the bottom and the chance to draft Connor Bedard. Three of the four teams (Anaheim, Chicago, and San Jose) with the fewest amount of points are in the West. Columbus is the lone Eastern Conference team that has a chance to win the Tankathon. Some good news for the Blue Jackets came last night when the Kings clinched their playoff spot and the draft pick they sent to Columbus for Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov became a first round pick. Ā 

Lightning News

Entering playoffs, Lightning want to hit hard, get in foes' heads [Tampa Bay Times]

Hit hard, cause turnovers, and score goals. That's what the Lightning are looking to do come playoff time.

Rangers, Lightning both chasing second place [Deadspin]

A rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Final features two teams that are currently in third place of their division, but have a chance to creep up to second place.

Sheffield Steelers should mirror the Tampa Bay Lightning [Sheffield Star]

The Lightning's influence is spreading across the sea. A team in the EIHL playoffs looks to emulate the Bolts' success.

David Carle named Head Coach of 2024 US National Junior Team [Team USA]

Former Lightning draft pick David Carle has had a pretty good run as the coach of the University of Denver Pioneers. He's posted a 116-53-13 record over five seasons and led his team to three NCAA tournament appearances. He'll now be tasked with leading the US National Junior Team at the World Junior Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden at the end of the year.

NHL / Hockey News

Is the scoring boom the new normal? [The Athletic]

Scoring is up to levels not seen since the early 1990s. Is it here to stay and how will it change the way teams are build moving forward?

Frozen Four has dozens of NHL draft picks: Four to watch [The Star Tribune]

The beauty of the Frozen Four is that you can see the next generation of NHL stars all in one place without having to pay NHL prices. Adam Fantilli is going to be the consolation prize for whoever doesn't get to draft Connor Bedard while Yaniv Perets has backstopped Quinnipiac all the way to Tampa.

Hockey Hall of Fame debuts exhibit on women's game [TSN]

"The Hockey Hall of Fame is so inclusive and to be able to capture every league, every association, all of women's hockey from the 1930s right up to the current times and celebrate that is pretty phenomenal," said [Hall of Famer Angela] James. "We're all enrolling in women's hockey to elevate our game and this is pretty special, I think."