NHL Playoff Race: Lightning lose, but get a lot of help elsewhere to not lose ground

The Lightning had a disappointingly flat performance against the Maple Leafs, but not all was lost.

With the Lightning clawing their way back into the playoff picture since the trade deadline, and with the end of the season within sight, it’s time to start scoreboard watching.

For the Lightning to make it to the wild-card spot, or possibly even third in the Atlantic division, they’ll need some help along the way. Not only do they need to win their games, they need to win more games than three or four other teams that are also fighting for playoff spots. With this feature, we’ll review how other teams helped (or hurt) the Lightning, and who you should be cheering for. We’ll continue this either until the Lightning secure a playoff spot... or are eliminated.

For every game we review, we’ll determine a Best Case, OK Case, and Worst Case scenario for each game. For each review, we’ll determine which actually happened for the Lightning. With thanks to @ElSeldo of Pension Plan Puppets for the inspiration.

Last Night’s Games

The Lightning came out in an embarrassingly flat performance against the Maple Leafs. This was a game they needed to get up for to really solidify their spot in the wild card. Unfortunately, they had a bad night. First game after a road trip. Fourth game in six nights. A Maple Leafs team that was embarrassed Tuesday night by the Panthers. It was just a recipe for a letdown game and the Lightning did just that.

All was not lost though. Despite falling a point behind the Maple Leafs, who still have a game in hand, the Lightning certainly got some help with the other teams around them in the standings losing as well. With that result, the Lightning didn’t fall behind anyone but Toronto.

  • Toronto Maple Leafs 5 @ Tampa Bay Lightning 0 - Worst Case
  • Philadelphia Flyers 2 @ New Jersey Devils 6 - Best Case
  • Winnipeg Jets 4 @ New York Islanders 2 - Best Case
  • Columbus Blue Jackets 2 @ Florida Panthers 1 - Best Case
  • Boston Bruins 4 @ Edmonton Oilers 7 - Best Case
  • Buffalo Sabres 0 @ Los Angeles Kings 2 - Best Case/

Tonight’s Games that Matter

Florida Panthers @ New York Rangers

Best Case: Rangers win in regulation

OK Case: Rangers win in overtime or shootout

Worst Case: Panthers win in any fashion

There are only four games on this St. Patrick’s Day Friday. And only one game that matters to the Lightning. It’s also a game that is definitely lower on the Scale of Caring as the Panthers sit six points behind the Lightning. After this game, both teams will have 12 games remaining. With a win, the Panthers can pull to within four of the Lightning and five of the Maple Leafs for the second wild-card spot.

Saturday will be another important not as the Lightning, Islanders, and Leafs will all be back in action.