* The Lightning held on and held off the Boston Bruins to win the Atlantic Division with the best record in the Eastern Conference of the NHL. The Bolts now have home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs. Just one cautionary note: Be careful what you wish for–and celebrate over. As a result of edging out Boston, the Lightning has drawn the lower-seeded New Jersey Devils–instead of the higher-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs. Only caveat: While Tampa Bay won three out of four against Toronto in the regular season, the Bolts were winless in three games against New Jersey.
Regardless, this is a special Lightning team, which set franchise records for wins (54) and points (113)–yes, better than the Stanley Cup champions of 2003-04. Go, Bolts.
* Amid all the hype and hope about a new Rays stadium in Ybor City, it would help if the Rays, per se, would do their part–and not start the season playing so badly. Hardly a complement to efforts at ginning up market enthusiasm. And, BTW, amid all the high-profile support being rallied by corporate Tampa Bay, among others, where is Jeff Vinik, Tampa’s visionary and developmental godfather? Water Street Tampa needs to be more than a de facto player.
* Nice to see Villanova win another national championship in basketball. That’s two titles in three years. The Wildcats are a throwback. No sham-student-athletes, no one-and-dones. Its best player, Jalen Brunson, won the Wooden Award as the national player of the year–and he will graduate after this semester.