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Tampa Bay Lightning playoff hopes for March 8th, 2017

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Who will help the Lightning maintain their position in standings, and who should we cheer for tonight for the Bolts’ playoff chances?

Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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.

Posted with permission from HockeyViz. Go to HockeyViz for a daily update on playoff chances.
HockeyViz / Micah Blake McCurdy

Last night, there were four games that we cared about in the playoff race. Unfortunately, we didn’t get too much help from any of them. The Lightning entered the night just two points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card spot. Additionally, Tampa was one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, tied with the Florida Panthers, and one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.

All four teams had a game in hand on the Lightning, and after last night’s games now have the same number of games played.

  • New York Islanders 4 @ Edmonton Oilers 1 - Worst Case
  • Philadelphia Flyers 6 @ Buffalo Sabres 3 - Worst Case
  • Detroit Red Wings 2 @ Toronto Maple Leafs 3 - Worst Case
  • New York Rangers 5 @ Florida Panthers 2 - Best Case

As you can see here, only the Rangers helped us out in the playoff race. But there’s nothing we can do about last night’s games, so we’ll look ahead to tonight’s games.

There really isn’t as much that impacts the Lightning tonight. There are only three games on the Wednesday docket. While three divisional teams are playing, they’ll likely have little impact on the Lightning’s playoff hopes.

Ottawa Senators @ Dallas Stars

Best Case: Dallas wins in Regulation

OK Case: Dallas wins in Overtime or Shootout

Worst Case: Senators win in any fashion

The Senators are far enough ahead of the Lightning in the standings that this game doesn’t matter too much. We don’t have much hope of catching them.

Detroit Red Wings @ Boston Bruins

Best Case: Detroit wins in Regulation

OK Case: Detroit wins in Overtime or Shootout

Worst Case: Bruins win in any fashion

The Red Wings are far enough behind Tampa that they have no hope of getting back into the playoffs. The Bruins sit third in the Atlantic. It’s possible Toronto could overcome them and push them down, or that the Lightning may have to catch the Bruins if the Islanders keep winning.

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Winnipeg Jets

Doesn’t Matter

The Penguins aren’t going to fall out of the Metropolitan’s top 3, so this game has little bearing on the Lightning.