Lightning Round: The Playoffs start....now
After all the waiting the fun begins tonight. The 2023 NHL playoffs kick off in Raleigh as the New York Islanders take on the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Shortly after (7:30 p.m.) that the Florida Panthers start their monumental task of trying to upset the Boston Bruins on ESPN. Western Conference fans have to contain their nerves a little longer as the battle of the Stars begins at 9:30 p.m. with Minnesota heading to Dallas (just like their franchise did in 1993). The final game of the night features the battle of the former Gretzky organizations with Los Angeles heading up to Edmonton at 10:00 p.m.
New storylines will be written as the games are played but there are a few we can already look out for in the games going on tonight. Can Boston build on the most successful regular season in the history of the league? Can the sport's most productive player (Connor McDavid) finally bring postseason glory back to Edmonton? Can Carolina finally put it all together?
We'll find out the answer to those questions starting tonight.
A look at some bets in the Tampa Bay/Toronto series [Raw Charge]
Want to add more stress to watching playoff games? Just bet on them. As always, if you do, do so responsibly. Know your limits.
2023 preview: Tampa Bay vs. Toronto [The Athletic]
Dom's model predicts the Maple Leafs to win (as did the one they had last year) but they don't make a firm pick except for: "the most likely outcome here is a series decided by a handful of plays over 6-7 games, with sweeping conclusions drawn no matter who wins."
Lightning no longer considered the team to beat [Tampa Bay Times]
Despite that, there is no team that, in Coach Cooper's words, the Lightning "fear".
Since we were off the over the weekend lets catch up on some news. Since it was the end of the regular season, that means catching up on who was fired.
Blue Jackets fire Brad Larsen [The Cannon]
This one was a bit of a surprise considering the Blue Jackets' season was derailed early and often by injuries. However, that wasn't enough for Brad Larsen to keep his job after two seasons as the head coach.
Penguins fire Ron Hextal and Brian Burke [Pensburgh]
While Mike Sullivan still has job for now, the rest of the Penguins front office was cleared out after the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Peter Laviolette and Washington Capitals part ways [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
The Capitals parted ways with their head coach Peter Laviolette after his three-year contract came to an end with this season. Much like the Penguins, this season marked the end of a long stretch of playoff appearances.
Hottest and coldest teams heading into the playoffs [Yahoo]
It's absolutely no shock that the Lightning find themselves on the "coldest" side of the list.
Breaking down all 16 teams [ESPN]
They point out the copious amount of hockey the Lightning have played over the last three seasons and the fact that the defense and lack of scoring depth could be a problem.
What you need to know about all 16 playoff teams [Sportsnet]
"Play with more discipline"
"Get more defensive zone and off-the-puck detail from star players."
Those are two pretty good pieces of advice.
Last Playoff OT winner from all 16 2023 teams [Youtube]
Oof, that first one still hurts.