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Lightning Round: how much change to expect in the playoff picture

and Cole Koepke is breaking pucks in Syracuse

Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 21: Ben Chiarot #8 and Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings get into a scrap with Nicholas Paul #20 and Mikhail Sergachev #98 of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the during the third period of an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on December 21, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Tampa Bay 7-4.
Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Here are your scores from last night. Boston lost in a shootout to the Senators, the Leafs beat the Blues in overtime, the Capitals walked over the Rangers, and the Islanders beat the Penguins. Tampa is nine points back of Toronto with three games in hand and six points up on Detroit.

The Bolts are very much in no-man’s-land in the standings. Detroit is six points back, Buffalo is seven, but neither team is really competitive enough to out-do the Lightning down the stretch. In terms of current real competitors, Florida is seven points back with the Lightning holding three games in hand. It’ll be tough for them to make the playoffs this year with five competitive Metro teams in playoff positions. They would need to jump over four teams including the Rangers or Penguins to make the playoffs.

With no one behind the Lightning in the running to take their divisional spot, it’s inevitable that the Bolts will play the Leafs in the first round, again. There’s a small chance Toronto will catch Boston, who has scuffled as of late. I’m sure the Leafs are going to be pushing to avoid the Lightning in the first round and play one of the Metro teams instead. I doubt the Lightning would be opposed to that either considering they’ve owned the Bruins in the playoffs.

Poll

Who do you want to see in the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Leafs rematch
    (15 votes)
  • 41%
    Bruins rematch
    (36 votes)
  • 41%
    Someone else
    (36 votes)
87 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who do you think the Bolts will see in the first round?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Leafs
    (66 votes)
  • 8%
    Bruins
    (7 votes)
  • 10%
    Someone else
    (9 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now

Mikhail Sergachev will be the first to tell you he isn’t doing enough as expectations mount for the not-so-young defenseman anymore. Sergachev started the season as the Ryan McDonagh replacement, but has slipped back into his third pair role as the season’s gone on, unable to succeed in big defensive minutes.

The Syracuse Crunch bring you Daniel Walcott’s hot tree takes in the first episode of Kitchen Face Offs.

Seems like Cole Koepke wants to come back.

Old friend Andrej Sustr was called up to the Wild.

Lightning fans are smart fans who know their stuff, but this is a great new resource from the expansion franchise on hockey stats. I like the explanations of why and how as much as what.

These lists are always hard to do, but anyone expecting the Habs to contend for championships within three years either lives in Quebec or is kidding themselves.

Highlight of the night from Quinn Hughes with his first goal of the season.

Boy, do I wish this trade happened.