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Morrow Night; Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars preview

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The formal end of Brenden Morrow's career and two playoff-caliber-but-struggling clubs square off.

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Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, Texas | When: 8:30 PM EDT
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: Fox Sports Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Defending Big D

Brendan Morrow played in 70 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014-15, scoring 3 goals and 5 assists, minus-1 and had 24 penalty minutes. His lower-line duties and low scoring was a far cry from his career high season with the Dallas Stars during the 2007-08 season: 32 goals, 42 assists, and plus-23.

It seems like a respect t of sorts that on game 71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning season, deep in the heart of Texas where Morrow played the majority of his NHL career (13 of 16 total seasons); Morrow will officially retire from the game. It stopped with 70 games in Tampa Bay (...in the regular season, that is, he did play 24 playoff games (of 118 overall in his career) for the Lightning too.

Basically, the late evening of St. Patrick's Day turns into Morrow Night, where applause, stick taps, and compliments of a well done career are due to be expressed toward Brenden Morrow. A job well done, sir, and best wishes toward the future wherever it shall take you.

Now let's get down to business.

The Lightning have had mixed results of the past few games, to put it loosely. They've enabled the Philadelphia Flyers to capture a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, they've gone toe-to-toe with the Boston Bruins before losing in overtime, they gave and took a thumping against the Blue Jackets on Sunday (scoring to earn a win is what they gave, physical abuse is what they took), and then there was the Toronto Maple Leafs game on Tuesday night in Toronto... A face palm / d'oh! animation is very much fitting here. I'll let Mister Homer Simpson do the deed (several dozent imes):

The bad news is the Lightning have fallen to 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, trailing both the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. The good news is that the division remains tight-tight, as Florida leads by only 2 points and the Bruins hold a single point lead over Tampa Bay. (Counter point: that adds to the sting of the loss to the Leafs, who the Panthers play tonight).

The Dallas Stars, on the other hand, are tied for the top spot in the Central Division with the St. Louis Blues. Dallas holds the edge (and thus the division lead) by having a game in-hand on St. Louis (71 games played as to 72). The Central is its own tight-tight race as the Chicago Blackhawks are in striking distance with 88 points in 71 games played. Like Dallas and St. Louis, the Hawks have 41 wins on the season... they just hold fewer overtime/shutout loss points (Dallas and St. Louis both hold 9 while Chicago has 6).

St. Louis is climbing in the standings though, they're 6-4-0 in their past 10 while the likes of Chicago and Dallas have all of 3 wins each in their past 10. Dallas is 3-4-3 while the reigning Stanley Cup Champions are 3-6-1.  Dallas, with all its potency, has a goal differential of +21 for the season... But stands at -6 in the past 10 games.

It sheds some light on how the Bolts have switched from surging to struggling in its past 10 when you look at the goal differential the past 10 games; it is +8 at the moment, by way of the winning streak that reigned over February for the Lightning. The club is -4 in the past five games (losses to Philly (2), Boston, Toronto and the win versus Columbus).

You know, I could go into details about the game and stress struggles and plusses for both clubs, who to look out for (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, John Klingberg) and who needs to step up on the Bolts (oh, the usual suspects: Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Callahan, J.T. Brown, Jason Garrison, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman -I could name the rest of the skaters but I think you get my point)... The truth is for both clubs and plenty of their fans right now, the details to state are thus:

What you've been doing lately, stop it! Stop it!  Play better! Do batter! Make us happy! Don't lose! Losing sucks and you're better than that!!!

Accurate, is it not?

That's two teams the message could be applied to, both are destined for the post-season unless something super-OMG-horrible happens; the Central Division has been locked down for much of the season, and the Lightning stand 6 points over the flailing Red Wings in the Atlantic (the only team that could knock them out of contender status). Dallas and Tampa Bay are jockeying for playoff seed position and trying to get back in gear as the club is not firing n all cylinders at the moment.

It should be a good game if both teams are playing like they're capable, comparable to last week's Lightning/Bruins game at the Amalie. That's if both clubs treat this as the playoff-caliber game it should be treated as. If either club simply phones it in though, (or that allegation can be levied against both teams at times in recent play) then a throw-away game is how this can look quite easily too.

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