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Lightning Clinch, but Has Their Window Closed?

The Tampa Bay Lightning return to the playoffs and look to regain some semblance of their Stanley Cup spark

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

Similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning were idol on Friday, but could clinch a playoff spot. The one difference, albeit a small one, was that while Toronto needed only two of the following three teams--Detroit, Philly, and Washington, to lose, and regulation wouldn't be mandated in some cases, Tampa Bay needed all three teams to lose in regulation, because the Eastern Conference's Wild Card picture is so muddled.

Sure enough, that's what happened. The Flyers lost in regulation, followed by the Red Wings, and finally, the Capitals. So the Tampa Bay Lightning are playoff bound once again, but one has to wonder, is this the end of the Bolts? This run they've been on has been amazing. They went from being completely embarrassed in 2019, to going into Thanos mode and destroying everything for two years straight. Back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021, nearly won a third straight in 2022, but last year saw the Bolts start to feel the effects of their long and unconventional runs.

The Bolts lost to the Maple Leafs in Round 1 last year, and this year saw the Bolts play their first two months without Andrei Vasilevskiy. Despite this, the Bolts did stay afloat and get into the playoffs, but with the way this season has gone for the Lightning, one has to wonder if this year could mark the end of their window being open, even though their current run has been very fruitful so far.

So that's what the Lightning face, and now, we have to talk about him.

Nikita Kucherov. Let's make one thing clear. Kucherov's my favorite player on this team, and despite the fact that they also have a lot of players I like in Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, and the aforementioned Vasilevskiy, it's not even close. Kucherov is tearing it up this season, he's the main obstacle in Nathan MacKinnon's quest to finally win the Hart and Ross. Now, Kucherov's been in the eye of controversy before. For one, "$18M over the cap"; the phrase that went around because Kucherov was out for that entire 2021 year, yet was somehow back for the playoffs. I'm not harping on that. There's also his lackadaisical approach during All-Star Weekend. I'm not harping on that, either.

Here's what I am harping on: why are a lot of people, including and especially Lightning fans, acting like Kucherov's all by himself this season? I mean, it's like they think Hedman, Stamkos, and Point don't exist or something. Yet these same people say the Lightning are one of the best teams in the league. Which is it? Are the Lightning loaded, or is Kucherov a one-man army? It can't be both. I get that there are fans who think Kucherov should win the Hart, but come on. You don't see Avs fans acting like Rantanen, Makar, and Lekhonen don't exist when we support MacKinnon.

As for the Lightning as a whole, they are in an interesting position. They are on the cusp of third place in the Atlantic Division, and they could actually surpass the Leafs in the standings. If they finish as a Wild Card, it'll more likely be the #1 Wild Card spot, and currently, the lower of the two division leaders is in the Atlantic. So Tampa Bay could be facing either Boston or Florida. Bolts should easily beat either of those two teams at the snap of a finger. As for beyond that, well, who knows?

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

Twitter - Facebook - Tiktok - Instagram

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Comments (2)

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  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    I love reading your sports story. I can feel your enthusiasm when I read them. I only into sports when my favorite team are playing but your stories are worth reading.

  • Philip Gipson2 months ago

    You instantly blew me away with yet another sports-themed story! :D

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