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On Tuesday night, an idle Lightning club retook the Atlantic Division lead

You probably didn't feel compelled to check the NHL standings on Wednesday morning. Tampa Bay last played Monday night and won't play again until Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens... But it's not like the rest o the NHL was idle and that holds sway over the standings and the Atlantic Division lead.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were playing the flip-side of back-to-back games in Sunrise last night and accomplished two feats in their 5-2 victory: climbing out of the cellar of the National Hockey League and pushed the Florida Panthers into 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. Though the Bolts and Panthers are tied in points (with 93 in 76 game played), the Lightning move into the division lead because the club holds more wins than the Panthers (44 to 42). The Leafs, being tied in points with Edmonton (67) moves out of the league cellar for the moment by also having three games in-hand on Edmonton.

The Lightning have two games left at Amalie Arena this season, versus Montreal and against the New Jersey Devils. They end the season on the road with games in the tri-state area (against the Islanders, Rangers and Devils) before closing the season at Bell Centre in Montreal on April 9. The Panthers schedule is much more mixed through their last games of the season: They face the Devils and Canadiens at home the next two games, then venture to Canada to play the Leafs, Canadiens and Ottawa Senators before closing the season at home in a contest against the Carolina Hurricanes April 9.

Glancing at those schedules and knowing where the opposing clubs are in the standings gives off the perception that Florida has the more favorable schedule for the Atlantic Division title... The result from last night's Panthers / Leafs game warps that perception. Keep an open mind for the ride to the NHL season finish line.