Lightning Round: can the Bolts catch Toronto?

Mar 29, 2023 - 11:00 AM
NHL: <a href=Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes" src="" />
Mar 28, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) come off the ice after there win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. | James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a lot to be optimistic about following their 4-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. It snapped a three-game losing streak where their level of play varied from poor to chaotic, but not focused. This game saw a focused, grounded, and consistent performance from the team.

And that’s not to say it was a perfect game, the Lightning still struggle with limiting shots against, especially rebounds in front of their net. And after not upgrading their defense in any way at the trade deadline, it’s an area of weakness for the team heading into the playoffs. Despite that, the Lightning were able to exploit their north-south game with puck-movers like Hedman, Sergachev, Perbix, and Darren Raddysh to create rush chances the other way. That was a recipe for success against Carolina, and hopefully will be one against Toronto.

Speaking of Toronto, is there any chance to catch them for second place in the Atlantic for home ice? Short answer, no. Even if the Lightning went undefeated in their final seven games (maximum 106 points), Toronto would only need nine points in their final nine games to stay tie/stay ahead. Toronto’s magic number to clinch second is 10 points and they’ll more likely than not get there by the end of the season.

What that means for the Lightning is a full focus on managing energy, managing injuries, managing rest, all of that stuff. Last night Ian Cole was healthy scratched and Haydn Fleury played. Fleury-Cernak didn’t play super great, but hopefully the day off at the end of a road trip helps an expected regular in the playoffs have a bit of a reset. The rotation on the fourth line is also a case of that. I’d expect to see Jon Cooper scratching star players closer to the end of the season, but probably not Point who’s aiming higher than a 50 goal season and Kucherov is second in the Art Ross race.

One game that jumps out is April 11th against Toronto. It’s a regular season game, it should mean nothing. However, the Lightning have a pattern of “setting a tone” in a potential playoff matchup. See the Boston game on Saturday. It might get messy, is all I’m saying.

Lightning Links

Here is our recap from the Canes Bolts game, covering Darren Raddysh’s night, Point’s goals, and looking a little deeper into a 21-31 shot clock. [Raw Charge]

“Last time the Lightning were in Carolina, they got shut out 6-0. Tonight, they repaid the favor with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Hurricanes. Brayden Point scored twice and led the way with three points, while Andrei Vasilevskiy got his third shutout of the season making 31 saves for the win.”

Dave Mishkin gave his thoughts on the win. [NHL dot com]

“When the Hurricanes did generate scoring chances, Andrei Vasilevskiy turned them aside. He made a key first period stop on a Jordan Martinook partial breakaway, keeping the game scoreless. He also recorded five saves on Carolina’s two power plays. (In the last meeting between the teams, a 6-0 Carolina victory, the ‘Canes netted four power play goals.)”

The ECHL is nearing the end of the season and Orlando is on the outside of the playoffs looking in. [Raw Charge]

“We are getting into the homestretch of the 2022-23 ECHL regular season, and for the Orlando Solar Bears, every point counts. With just 9 games remaining in the season, and the prospects of making the Kelly Cup playoffs getting slimmer by the week, the team’s fate is in their own hands.”

Micah from HockeyViz mapped each team’s average goal differential at each second during a game. You can see the teams who just crater immediately (see if you can spot them all and which in your opinion is worst). Toronto, New York, and Carolina are in the same approximate tier under Boston who breaks the chart. Boston’s chart says they win, on average, by at least two goals per game. And on average they have at least a one-goal lead heading into the third period. The Anti-Anaheim, if you will.

Detroit head coach and former Bolts coach Derek Lalonde is probably getting a phone call and a fine from the NHL for this.

And finally, check out this baseball logo! The attention to detail on the pepperoni tongue takes it the extra mile.

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