What's the top storyline for the final week of the season?
Craig Custance: With their win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to hang on to their playoff hopes -- by the slimmest of margins. That's the storyline I'm watching. Nikita Kucherov has jumped into the Hart Trophy race, Jonathan Drouin makes at least one incredible play per game, and pretty soon captain Steven Stamkos' music will be playing. Unlike the fading Ottawa Senators -- who hold down the final playoff spot -- the Lightning can actually make some postseason noise. They just need to get there first.
Scott Burnside: It has to be the race in the Eastern Conference to avoid playing the Washington Capitals in the first round. The Boston Bruins (winners of five straight), Toronto Maple Leafs or Senators will fall into the second wild-card spot (sorry, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders et al, you're cooked) and face the NHL's top team. For the two teams that avoid the wild-card spot and end up second and/or third in the Atlantic Division, it's a legitimate chance to win at least one round this spring. In other words, the final week of the regular season represents potentially millions of dollars in playoff revenue. The Leafs play four of their five remaining games at home, but all against tough opponents: the Capitals, Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Senators, who are slumping, play two against the Detroit Red Wings, which is helpful. The Bruins have played two more games than both the Senators and Leafs but start the week in second in the division. My guess is the Senators stumble into the second wild-card before a quick first-round exit.
Corey Pronman: Given that I've checked every Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets box score so far this season (I'm not even kidding), the final stretch of the rookie race between Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine will be intriguing to me. Rarely does a Calder race come down to the first and second overall picks of the previous draft (Zach Werenski of the Blue Jackets is in the mix, too, but is a likely third-place finish) with these two players having debate and intrigue follow them for nearly two years.
Joe McDonald: Can the Bruins avoid missing the postseason for a third consecutive year? They currently hold sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division, but their final three games won't be easy, as they face the Lightning, Senators and Capitals. Tampa (88 points) is 5-0-1 in its past six games and trails the Senators (91 points) for the second wild-card spot in the East. The Bruins are playing inspired hockey and have won five straight -- and I expect the Lightning and Senators to play their best games of the season against Boston on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.