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Lightning Round: An early look at a potential first round opponent

The playoffs are already one month away...

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With one month left in the regular season let’s take a look at playoff picture. The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently sitting at the second place in the Atlantic Division. The margin between them and the closest teams is big enough to confidently say that the Lightning will likely finish second place.

nhl.com/standings/2019/wildcard

While the position of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the end of the regular season is pretty clear, it’s not very obvious who will be their opponent in the first round of postseason. The Toronto Maple Leafs, currently sitting at the third place in the standings, have lost three consecutive games during their trip to California, earning just one point out of six. These three losses allowed the Florida Panthers to get closer, as of this morning they are just three points behind of the Leafs with one game in hand. In two weeks both teams will face each other and this game might crucial for their playoff chances.

The Athletic’s projection model written by Dom Luszczyszyn has the Toronto Maple Leafs as the most likely Lightning matchup for the first round with 79 percent probability, while chances to face the Panthers are at 13 percent. The data are updated on Saturday morning, so given yesterday’s Panthers win over the Montreal Canadiens, their chances have probably slightly increased. The Florida Panthers are also in the race for one of the wild card spots with four other teams from the Metropolitan Division.

Lightning Org News

The Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins in a very crazy game last night at TD Garden, Boston. The Bolts won the season series against the Bruins 3-1, including two games on the road [Raw Charge]

As in the previous game, the Bruins outshot their opponent, although this time the Lightning controlled the game in terms of expected goal share. The Lightning took an early lead in the first period after shorthanded goals by Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev also became the second Lightning defenceman who reached the 10-goal mark this season. He also set a career high in goals in a single season. Andrei Vasilevskiy faced 38 shots and allowed three goals.

Victor Hedman played just about five minutes last night, according to head coach Jon Cooper, Hedman got hurt during the first period and couldn’t return on the ice, staying on the bench till the end of the game. He will be reevaluated later.

The Syracuse Crunch responded for Friday’s loss to the Toronto Marlies with a 2-1 win over them on Saturday night. Taylor Raddysh scored a game-winning goal.

Other Hockey News

The Florida Panthers retired Roberto Luongo’s number before yesterday’s game against the Canadiens. He became the first player in the Florida Panthers organization to have his jersey retired.

The IIHF officially cancelled the upcoming Women’s World Hockey Championship due to threat of Coronavirus.

The NHL also closed dressing rooms to media due to concern of spreading Coronavirus.

Prior to the International Women Day, the members of Seattle’s team shared to Sportsnet how they’re a building a diverse NHL team.

The NHL announced that NHL Draft Lottery will be held on April 9.