Where: Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario
When: 7:30 PM EDT | Tickets: Check availability
Media: Sun Sports (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Pension Plan Puppets, The Leafs Nation, Blue and White Brotherhood
It's sort of a contradiction, isn't it, how the Lightning went into last night's game with bleakness following the club. Despite having 99 points on the season, two loses in a row (to the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings) set the wrong tempo for the club, the wrong direction. Add to it the injuries that the Lightning suffered in Detroit and it looked like, perhaps, the Bolts were on a negative course to end the season.
One win and now the story is the club being thisclose to taking over the Atlantic Division as well as vying for the Eastern Conference title as well as the President's Trophy (having the most points / best record of all NHL clubs in the regular season).
In reality, vying for the Atlantic Division regular-season title is very much on the line as the Lightning are a single point behind the Montreal Canadiens now. Les Habs and the Bolts both have the same number of games-played (77). The Eastern Conference lead may belong to the Habs at the moment, but the New York Rangers have two games in-hand while also trailing the Habs by a single point. In fact, it's the Rangers who can vie for the President's Trophy more than Montreal, or Tampa Bay, or the Central Division leading Nashville Predators. The games in-hand that the Rags have give them more of an opportunity to catch the league-leading team, the Anaheim Ducks, who has played 78 games this season as compared to the Rangers 75.
While the Lightning could very well take over the Atlantic Division lead with a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, it will not be an easy task, or it shouldn't be at least. Forget the locker room issues and dysfunction of the Leafs, the fact that holds the most sway going into tonight's contest at the Air Canada Center is the fact Toronto hasn't played since Saturday. They're a more-rested team than the Lightning who played last night. Add to it the depletion of vets on the Lightning blue line and you have more of a challenge for the Lightning than the standings make you think.
It hasn't been confirmed who will start in net for the Lightning but it should be Andrei Vasilevskiy (who hasn't started in goal for a week). James Reimer is slated to start tonight for the Leafs as Toronto starts its own back-to-back series tonight. Reimer is 8-15-0 on the season with a 3.23 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.
Tampa Bay and Toronto have something in common: Mediocrity on the power play. The Bolts are ranked 20th in the NHL with a 17.7% on the man-advantage. Toronto's efficiency when up a man is a mite less; they're ranked 22nd with a 16.7% conversion rate.
Other Game Coverage:
- Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview
- Full coverage on SB Nation
- Live stream of Tampa Bay Lightning coverage on Twitter