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Lightning Round: Toronto or Carolina?

First round matchups are still up for grabs

2022 NHL All-Star Skills
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 04: (L-R) Goaltenders Frederik Andersen #31 of the Carolina Hurricanes, Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs pose for a photo during warm-up before the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills as part of the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend on February 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

With the Tampa Bay Lightning’s loss to the Blue Jackets last night, and another Boston Bruins win, there is only one point separating the two teams with one game to play in the regular season. This means if the Bolts lose to the Islanders, and the Bruins beat the Leafs, we could see the Lightning drop down to the first Wild Card position.

In the first Wild Card, the Lightning would get the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round and would move forward through the Metro Division rather than the Atlantic. I gotta say, that sounds like a much better proposition than playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and possibly the Florida Panthers in the second. Those two are currently the first and third teams in the East.

A Toronto loss to Boston, along with a Tampa loss, would mean the Bruins and Leafs would get set to face each other for 4-7 games right away, and for the third playoffs in five years. There’s a lot of history between those two teams, and while the Leafs are the better team on paper, there is a whole psychological aspect that could come into play. Also the Bruins are one of the best defensive teams in the league and Patrice Bergeron is still having one of his best seasons ever.

On the last day of the season, there is a lot to play for.

Poll

Who would you rather face in the first round and onwards?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Toronto and the Atlantic
    (54 votes)
  • 73%
    Carolina and the Metro
    (151 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now

Poll

In a vacuum, who would you rather see in a playoff series?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Toronto
    (91 votes)
  • 49%
    Carolina
    (88 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which do you think would be the more entertaining/fun series?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Toronto
    (146 votes)
  • 22%
    Carolina
    (42 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now

In other Tampa Bay news, the Bucs traded down their first round pick, so they’ll get to start their drafting today at the NFL Draft. Check out our sibling site, Bucs Nation, covering the team for SBN.

Part of the reason the Lightning are in their current first round opponent dilemma is because they lost last night to the Blue Jackets after beating them on Tuesday night. [Raw Charge]

“The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Thursday night in a game that ultimately meant little aside from seeding in the playoffs (no matter who the Lightning play, it will be a tough challenge). Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry scored for the Lightning. Jakub Voracek, Cole Sillinger, Jack Roslovic, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Andrew Peeke scored for the Blue Jackets. Brian Elliott stopped 30 of 34 shots while Elvis Merzlikins stopped 25 of 27.”

The Leafs know their first game is on Monday at home. Will the Bolts be flying into town, or will the Bruins get an extended stay over the weekend?

Carolina won the Jennings trophy this year as the team who allowed the fewest goals in the league. Andersen is injured at the moment and heading into the playoffs.

Chicago hired John Greenberg out of the MLB. I read this as the team doesn’t trust rookie GM Kyle Davidson and they’re bringing a professional to possibly replace him. It’s especially telling it’s for the role “associate” rather than “assistant.”

Dustin Brown is retiring at the end of these playoffs.