WASHINGTON — Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said he never has heard around the locker room it would be better to lose games to be in the best position to secure the No. 1 pick in the June draft.
"No, honest to God, no one has ever said anything about the draft or the lottery," Boyle said.
"You know him," Boyle added about coach John Tortorella. "He's not going to let us go out like that."
A Kings win late Thursday would drop Tampa Bay to 30th among the 30-team league with one game remaining. As esthetically unpleasing as that is, being at the league's bottom offers a much greater chance of getting the No. 1 pick, which is expected to be NHL-ready junior center Steve Stamkos.
Fourteen balls numbered 1 through 14 will be put in a lottery machine on Monday.
Four will be expelled. The resulting four-digit series will be matched against the possible four-digit combinations that will be divided among the 14 clubs.
Here's where it gets tricky.
Because teams can move up only a maximum of four draft positions (and drop only one), only teams that finish among the bottom five can get the top pick.
The other nine teams are simply jockeying for position, which means if any of their combined 232 four-digit combinations are selected, the 30th-place team will retain the top pick.
The bottom line: The No. 30 team has a total of 482 combinations (250 plus 232) to ensure its No. 1 selection. Even so, the No. 30 team has kept the top pick only three times since the lottery began in 1995: the Senators in '96, Bruins in '97 and Blues in 2006.
TAKING HIS TIME: Center Jeff Halpern said playing for the United States in the world championship is "something I want to do," but will take some time before making a definitive decision.
ODDS AND ENDS: Goalie Mike Smith said he had no ill effects after Halpern and Carolina's Ryan Bayda on Wednesday fell on his sore left knee. … Sports Illustrated's Mike Farber gave wing Mathieu Darche his 2007-08 award for most perseverance. … Forwards Karl Stewart and Andre Roy and defenseman Shane O'Brien were healthy scratches.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.