The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins for the first time this season yesterday at Amalie Arena evening up the Atlantic Division Race in the Eastern Conference at 110 points a piece. The Bruins have a game in hand still w/ a trip down to Sunrise to play the Florida Panthers (who are fighting just to get into the playoffs) Thursday night, before returning back to Boston to wrap things up against Ottawa & Florida on Saturday & Sunday night. The Bolts finish their regular season with the basement dwelling Buffalo Sabers in town Friday evening and then a trip to Carolina to face the Hurricanes in the finale.
Despite the extra game, PlayoffStatus.com gives the Lightning a 51% chance to win the #1 seed in the East over Boston.
If the quest for Lord Stanley started today, the Bruins have the tie-breaker and would play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round as the top seed on the East side of the bracket while Tampa Bay would clash w/ the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Neither the Maple Leafs or Washington Capitals can improve their position the last few games, while the Bruins and Bolts can only flip flop with each other. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have already clinched a spot in the post season, can be anywhere from the #4 seed to #8 seed.
Columbus, Philly, & New Jersey are still all jostling for position as the Panthers cling to dear life trying to steal a spot away from one of those 3 teams, but Florida needs some help not controlling their own destiny. The Blue Jackets currently have a 1 point lead over the Devils and 2 point lead over the Flyers, making them more likely to avoid those bottom 2 seeded slots.
So to recap, the Lightning will either play the Maple Leafs if nothing changes in the next 5 days or end up stacked against the Devils or Flyers most likely by winning the #1 seed over Boston w/ an outside chance to play Columbus and VERY long shot to play the Pens if either implodes to end the regular season this last week.
Regardless, the Stanley Cup could use a tan, Let's Go Bolts!