The Lightning begin their most important week of the season tonight in Boston with a game against the Bruins, one of the teams they are chasing in the playoff race.
It’s pretty simple. Win or go home. The Lightning are 3 points out of a playoff spot right now with 4 games left. Every game this week is a game 7, a must win. The margin for error is over. Although these are not playoff games, the pressure that the Lightning has played under this last month is equal to a playoff game.
It does no good to watch the scoreboard or look ahead to the next game. The Lightning need to care of business to stay alive. . Loose and your season is over. Pretty simple.
The Lightning have been on a tear since the first of February when they hit rock bottom and were in last place in the Eastern Conference. Since then the Lightning are on a 17-7-4 pace, top 5 in the NHL over that time frame. They have done that with good goaltending from Peter Budaj and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Overall the defense has been very good. The loss of Jason Garrison hurt short term, but Garrison was back Sunday and looked like the Garrison of old.
Rookie Jake Dotchin has been rock solid along side Victor Hedman, Offensively, Nikita Kucherov carried this team through March as he is on pace for 40 goals. Brayden Point has been a good contributor with 13 goals this season.
Overachievers? Let’s wait and see if this team gets to the playoffs. The rookies have played very well and the Lightning would not be in the position they are in if not for the solid play of Adam Erne, Yanni Gourde, Gabriel Dumont and Jake Dotchin.
Steven Stamkos may return this week. I thought we would see him over the weekend, but Stamkos did not feel ready to return. The Lightning are smart to take this approach with Stamkos. No need to risk a long term injury by rushing Stamkos back, for a short term gain.
The rollercoaster ride is about to begin. This is a ride we have been on since February. The Games get bigger and bigger. None bigger right now than the game tonight in Boston. Let’s Go Bolts.