FORMAT: The top eight teams in each conference compete in best-of-seven series with division winners receiving the top three seeds. The higher seed hosts the first two games, the lower seed the next two and then they alternate home games until there is a winner. Teams must win three series to advance to the Stanley Cup final.
OVERTIME: The format is sudden death and teams play as many 20-minute periods as necessary to determine a winner. There are no tie games in the playoffs.
FIGHTING: Expect to see little, if any, fisticuffs. With goals hard to come by, teams don't want to risk giving their opponent a power play through an extra penalty. The one exception is at the end of some already-decided games. Wanting to "send a message" for the next game, the losing team might try to goad the opponent into fights.
STANLEY CUP: The oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes, it goes to the team that wins the NHL championship.
PAYOFF: Players on each team receive a pool of money from the league to divide as they see fit. The amount is determined by how far their team advances. This year first round losing teams each will divide about $260,000, conference semifinal losers divide about $450,000, conference final losers divide about $1-million, the Stanley Cup final losers divide about $1.6-million and the winners share about $2.4-million.
CONN SMYTHE TROPHY: Named for the longtime owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the award goes to the most valuable player of the playoffs. The recipient is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Following the Lightning
TELEVISION: Most of the opening-round series will be carried by Sunshine Network with Rick Peckham on the play-by-play announcer and Bobby "Chief" Taylor as analyst. Paul Kennedy serves as rinkside reporter. He will host a half-hour pregame show, Lightning Ice Time, before each game on Sunshine. Sunshine will carry a postgame show, featuring player interviews, highlights and the coaches' news conferences. Ch. 28 will televise Saturday's game with an ABC broadcast crew.
RADIO: David Mishkin is the Lightning play-by-play voice on WDAE-AM 620. Former Lightning general manager Phil Esposito serves as analyst for home games. Broadcasts begin with a 30-minute pregame show and end with a 30-minute postgame show.
FOOD/DRINK: Fans may not bring food and drink into the arena, but concessions are available. Also, the XO Club is a special season ticket level with food and drink included and Shots at Channelside is a sports and entertainment bar on the west side of the building.
CAMERAS: Still cameras are allowed as long as they don't have detachable lenses. No video cameras or camera bags.
SECURITY: Bags, backpacks, laser pointers, weapons, bottles, cans, sharp objects, sticks, poles, fireworks, pepper spray, mace, food, beverages and wrapped gifts are prohibited. Fans are subject to search at all entries. You'll move through more quickly if you avoid bringing bags or purses.
SMOKING: It is prohibited in the building, but smoking is allowed outside exits behind section 126/128, behind section 212 and behind section 326/328. Fans can exit and re-enter the building during events at those areas.
AUTOGRAPHS: Players enter and leave through Gate D. Some stop to sign autographs before and/or after games.
POWER PLAY: THE ENTERTAINMENT ZONE: The area opens two hours before home games on the main plaza west of the St. Pete Times Forum. It allows fans to show their form in activities such as a hockey slapshot and a bungee run. It also features food, live music and drink specials in Shots.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?: The St. Petersburg Times bought naming rights to the arena formerly known as the Ice Palace in September 2002, paying $30-million over 12 years to rename it the St. Pete Times Forum. Palace Sports & Entertainment continues to run the team and the arena.