An NHL team can say a lot with one single letter in the standings.
Any team with the letter "x" after its name can feel good about itself because it means they have clinched a spot in the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning took care of that several games ago, but fans who look at the standings online or in a newspaper will not see that "x" any longer. It has been replaced by a "p."
That letter represents a different level of accomplishment. It means that the Lightning have clinched the Presidents Trophy, which goes to the team that finishes the regular season with the best record.
The Lightning defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 Monday night, and their 56-13-4 record means they have 116 points with nine games remaining.
Even if the Lightning were to lose all nine games in regulation and not gain a single point, no other team could catch them.
The Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames have 95 points each, and both of those teams have 10 games remaining. A sweep would leave either team with 115 points—one point behind the Lightning.
"Trophies are hard to win, they truly are," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, per Stats/AP (h/t CBSSports). "And when you win one you should be damn proud of it. I know there are a lot of teams that have not won that trophy and I think it's something you should embrace."
It was no surprise to see the Lightning have a strong year after reaching the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Final before losing to the Washington Capitals. But to see them clinch the best record in the league with nine games to go is a major achievement.
The Lightning are the heavy 2-1 favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, per VegasInsider.com.
The San Jose Sharks are the second choice at 8-1, followed by the Nashville Predators at 10-1, the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets at 11-1, and then the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights at 12-1.
Here's a look at the odds for all teams that remain in contention for playoff spots.
Stanley Cup Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1
San Jose Sharks, 8-1
Nashville Predators, 10-1
Winnipeg Jets, 11-1
Boston Bruins, 12-1
Toronto Maple Leafs, 12-1
Vegas Golden Knights, 12-1
Calgary Flames, 16-1
Pittsburgh Penguins, 16-1
St. Louis Blues, 2-1
Columbus Blue Jackets, 26-1
New York Islanders, 26-1
Carolina Hurricanes, 30-1
Chicago Blackhawks, 50-1
Dallas Stars, 50-1
Minnesota Wild, 70-1
Montreal Canadiens, 80-1
Arizona Coyotes 85-1
Colorado Avalanche, 85-1
Edmonton Oilers, 200-1
Philadelphia Flyers, 200-1
Florida Panthers, 300-1
The Lightning may have put the race for the Presidents Trophy to bed, but the wild-card races in both conferences are still going strong.
The NHL standings reveals that the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets have the No. 1 and 2 wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference, respectively, and they are being chased by the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Hurricanes have 85 points with 11 games remaining, while the Jackets have 84 points with 10 games left. The slumping Habs (4-6-0 in the last 10 games) have 81 points while the Flyers have 78 points. Both Montreal and Philadelphia have 10 games on the schedule, and those two teams play each other Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
The wild-card race in the Western Conference is a bit more complex than the Eastern Conference situation. The Dallas Stars and the Arizona Coyotes have the two wild-card spots at this point, as the Stars have 80 points and 10 games remaining, while the Coyotes have 78 points with nine games to play after their loss Monday night to the Lightning.
The Minnesota Wild have 77 points with nine games remaining, while the Colorado Avalanche have 74 points with 10 games on the schedule.
The Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2 overtime losers to the Vancouver Canucks Monday night at home, also have 74 points with 10 games remaining, and the Canucks have 72 points with nine games left on the schedule.
The Edmonton Oilers (71 points) and the Anaheim Ducks (69 points) remain technically alive, but they are not in a decent position at this point.
The Hurricanes have been playing excellent hockey and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They should be able to hold onto the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Blue Jackets have not been as good, going 5-4-1 in their last 10. The Canadiens are struggling to put the puck in the net and don't look like they have enough firepower to make it into the postseason.
The Flyers are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and playing well, but they appear to have to much ground to make up. Look for Carolina and Columbus to earn the Eastern Conference wild-card spots.
The Stars and Coyotes have both registered 6-3-1 records in their last 10 games, and they have played well. The Wild are just 4-3-3 in their last 10, and their inability to win home games have hurt them badly. Minnesota is just 15-15-7 at home this season.
The 'Yotes have played with more grit than the Wild, and we see Dallas and Arizona holding onto the wild-card spots.
Minnesota could conceivably catch St. Louis (82 points) for third place in the Central Division, but the Blues have been strong in the second half of the season, and they should hold onto that position.