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Tampa Bay Lightning playoff hopes for March 13th, 2017

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Another test on the road, another opportunity for the Lightning to make up ground.

NHL: New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

With the Lightning clawing their way back into the playoff picture since the trade deadline, and with the end of the season within sight, it’s time to start scoreboard watching.

For the Lightning to make it to the Wild Card spot, or possibly even third in the Atlantic division, they’ll need some help along the way. Not only do they need to win their games, they need to win more games than three or four other teams that are also fighting for playoff spots. With this feature, we’ll review how other teams helped (or hurt) the Lightning, and who you should be cheering for. We’ll continue this either until the Lightning secure a playoff spot... or are eliminated.

For every game we review, we’ll determine a Best Case, OK Case, and Worst Case scenario for each game. For each review, we’ll determine which actually happened for the Lightning. With thanks to @ElSeldo of Pension Plan Puppets for the inspiration.

Last Night’s Games

NOTHING! There were only five games on Sunday and none of them mattered to the Lightning’s playoff hopes. All of the teams playing were either in the Western Conference or so far ahead or behind of the Lightning that it didn’t matter what they did (barring someone like the Rangers or Capitals having a complete and utter meltdown and not winning another game the rest of the season).

Tonight’s Games That Matter

Tonight’s games are a little different store. The Lightning have traveled to New York to take on the Rangers. Several other wild-card chasers are also in play tonight as well. The Lightning sit three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild-card spot, with the New York Islanders in between at two points up on the Lightning. With a back-to-back tonight and tomorrow, the Lightning will have an extra game played over the Maple Leafs, but will match the Islanders who are also on a back-to-back. While the Lightning can’t take over the wild-card spot tonight, they could potentially move ahead of the Maple Leafs and Islanders with two wins while both of those teams lose.

Tampa Bay Lightning @ New York Rangers

Best Case: Lightning win in any fashion

OK Case: Lightning lose in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Lightning lose in regulation

The Rangers will be on the back side of a back-to-back tonight. The Lightning get a little advantage since they traveled to New York yesterday while the Rangers had to fly back to New York after beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 last night. The Rangers are 6-4-0 in their last ten games and have been playing well. The Lightning lost 1-0 in overtime just over a week ago at home and were shellacked by the Rangers 6-1 in New York back in December. The Lightning are on a four game losing streak against the Rangers, but had won five in a row against the Rangers before that in the regular season.

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Philadelphia Flyers

Best Case: Blue Jackets win in regulation

OK Case: Blue jackets win in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Flyers win in any fashion

The Flyers have been on a slide lately and sit three points back of the Lightning and six points back of the wild card. If they continue to slide while the Lightning pull ahead, we won’t need to pay attention to the Flyers for very much longer. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 and on a two-game losing streak.

Carolina Hurricanes @ New York Islanders

Best Case: Hurricanes win in regulation

OK Case: Hurricanes win in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Islanders win in any fashion

The Islanders are 6-3-1 in their last 10, but will face one of the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes are only 3-4-3 in their last 10 games. If the Lightning win and the Islanders fail to get a point tonight, the Lightning will be in a tie for the last spot before the Wild Card.

Boston Bruins @ Vancouver Canucks

Best Case: Canucks win in regulation

OK Case: Canucks win in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Bruins win in any fashion

The Bruins have continued to put up wins ever since firing Claude Julien. They are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games. They’re just starting a Western Canada trip with the Canucks and will face Calgary and Edmonton on Wednesday and Thursday. The Canucks haven’t been playing well, but a good performance from their goaltending could keep them on the winning side of the ledger for us. The Bruins sit 5 points up on the Lightning with an extra game played.

St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings

Best Case: Kings win in regulation

OK Case: Kings win in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Kings lose in any fashion

The Kings continue to chase down a playoff spot. They sit just three points behind the Blues for the second Wild Card spot. A regulation win here would be great for them to make up some ground on the Blues. As a reminder, the Lightning acquired a conditional draft pick from the Kings in the Ben Bishop trade. The conditions of the trade are unknown other than the fact that it will be nothing if the Kings miss the playoffs. All of us Lightning fans should be cheering for the Kings to get into the playoffs and go far so that we will reap the benefits of a higher draft pick from them.