The Tampa Bay Lightning begin the second half of the season tonight chasing a playoff spot. The Lightning are 6 points behind Boston for the final spot in the Atlantic division. Tonight’s game with Boston and Thursday nights game with Ottawa are 2 key games that the Lightning must win to get back into the playoff race quickly.
The Lightning currently have 50 points with 31 games left in the season. It wil take a minimum of 95 points to get a playoff spot. if the Lightning were to run the table they would net 62 points and finish the season with 112 points. That will not happen.
Let’s say the Lightning get points in 16 games, that would give them 82 points a long way from a playoff spot. The Lighning have dug themselves a big hole and will need to get at least 45 points in the final 31 games to even put themselves in a position to even be in consideration for a playoff spot.
This team is more than capable of going on a run. They have not had that run this year like they did last year winning 20 of 25. Poor defensive play, poor goaltending, and injuries have all contributed to the mediocre play.
The Lightning have seemed to corrected their defensive deficiencies. Take away the Arizona game, and the Lightning defensively played very well on the west coast trip giving up just over 2 goals a game. The big area of concern was the lack of scoring. Last year when Stamkos went down with his injury, the scoring never missed a beat. Nikita Kucherov, and Jonathan Drouin were 2 of the guys that picked up their game. That hasn’t happened this year as Kucherov has all but disappeared the last month. There was a confirmed sighting of Kucherov in Los Angeles over the weekend.
With Ryan Callahan out probably for the season and Stamkos not back till mid- March, I see a lot of 2-1, 1-0 games down the stretch.
If the Lightning are to get on a roll and get into the playoffs, it will have to be on the strength of their defensive play and the play of goalies Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskily.
14 of the teams remaining games are against division opponents. Every game is a must win now. The sense of urgency needs to be very high. If this Lightning team does not make the playoffs, it will make for a very long summer in Tampa and will go down as one one of the biggest dissaopointments in Tampa Bay Lightning history.