Steven Stamkos, Tomas Vokoun

Streaking Lightning still could have a shot at playoffs


The Tampa Bay Lightning started the New Year with seven losses (0-6-1), but all of a sudden, the Bolts are starting to look dangerous again. Steven Stamkos cashed in on a nice Martin St. Louis setup to beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime for the Lightning’s fifth consecutive win.

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Assessing the future

Naturally, this recent run begs the question: can the Lightning actually get back into the playoff hunt? The Lightning are currently in 11th place with 48 points in 49 games. Take a look at the standings to get a better idea of the exact specifics of the playoff picture, but they’re most likely to find for one of the East’s bottom two playoff spots:


The good news is that the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t untouchables by any means. The bad news is that the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets should be very much in the mix as the stretch run goes along, especially if those two Southeast Division rivals get healthier going forward.

Opportunities via schedule

The Lightning have a solidly advantageous schedule, with 19 of their 33 remaining contests at home. February features eight games at the St. Pete Times Forum to five on the road, but it’s March that could really open things up with a seven-game homestand from March 10-24.


Will a promising schedule and a recent rush of momentum help them claim one of the bottom spots in the East (or if the Ottawa Senators stumble, maybe one of the final three)? The odds are still stacked against Tampa Bay, but let us know what you think of the Bolts’ chances.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky
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Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?