With the Florida Panthers 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Sunday night, the Lightning have backed into first place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning had an opportunity to clinch the division win on Saturday, but could not pull off the win in Carolina to guarantee it. They needed the Panthers to win in any fashion for that to happen. This marks the third time the Lightning have won their division. The other two times came in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.
Now that the Lightning have the division title, two things are locked in — their first-round opponent and home-ice advantage. If the Lightning were to make it into the semi-finals or conference finals, they would have home ice advantage in addition to home ice in the first round. They also have their first round opponent locked in with the New Jersey Devils.
In the New Jersey Devils, the Lightning will be facing a relatively inexperienced playoff team. The Devils have 11 players currently on their roster that have not played in a single playoff game, including starting goaltender Keith Kinkaid. The Devils roster has 590 games of playoff experience, mostly with other teams, as the New Jersey Devils have not been to the playoffs since losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011-12. Their roster averages 23 games played. Their playoff games played leader is former Bolt Brian Boyle with 106 career games
By contrast, the Lightning have a total of 1,145 career playoff games on the roster averaging 48 games per player. Veteran Chris Kunitz and his four Stanley Cup rings leads the way with 161 games played. Dan Girardi (122), Braydon Coburn (115), and Ryan Callahan (104) also bring over 100 games experience, while Ryan McDonagh has 96.
Fifteen players on the roster have at least 40 games of experience. The Lightning have six players on the roster that have not appeared in a playoff game in their careers: Louis Domingue, Jake Dotchin, Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde, and Brayden Point.