Feb 1, 2012, 12:15 AM EDT
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.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
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.
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