Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning to Face Off With Toronto Maple Leafs in Must-Win Game

When you begin approaching the final games of the season, every game feels like a must-win game; however, this really is a must-win for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts will face off with the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre for two much needed points.

As I said before, this game is crucial for the Lightning.

At this time, the Toronto Maple Leafs are only one point behind the Bolts in the standings.

If they were to come out victorious, they will knock the Bolts down in the standings; however, should the Bolts come out on top, they will extend their lead and allow the team a small amount of breathing room.

These two teams are very closely matched when you take a look at the stats. Unfortunately for the Bolts, they haven’t had much luck against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

So far this season, the Maple Leafs have gone 36-26-8 whereas the Lightning have gone 37-24-7.

One thing the Bolts are going to have to watch out for is the scoring prowess of Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel. Right now, Kessel leads the Maple Leafs in all things scoring. So far this season, he has suited up for 69 games. In that time, he has netted 34 goals and 39 assists for a total of 73 points.

Now, on the other side of the ice, it is center Valtteri Filppula who is holding down the fort for the Lightning. In the 63 games he has played this season, he has scored 22 goals and 27 assists for a total of 49 points to accompany his plus-5 rating. When it comes to assists, it is defenseman Victor Hedman who is leading the pack with 32.

As I said before, when you take a look at the scoreboard, these two teams are fairly evenly matched.

Bolts

Maple Leafs

Goals Per Game

2.82

2.81

Goals Against Per Game

2.54

3.00

Shots on Goal Per Game

29.74

27.68

Penalty Minutes Per Game

10.5

13.07

Power Play Goals

36

44

Power Play Percentage

16.7%

20.7%

Penalty Kill Percentage

80.3%

78.4%

 

There is one point of contention that separates these two teams. They are evenly matched in every statistic, except the power play. The Maple Leafs have had a pretty decent power play this season. With the Bolts’ predisposition to find themselves in the box, this could pose a problem for the team. Now, we all know that the Bolts can find ways to steer clear of the box; they just need to make sure this is in effect against the Maple Leafs.

Now, the Maple Leafs are playing the second game in a back to back, so the team is going to have a certain amount of wear on them. This is the same situation that the Bolts are going to be in come Thursday. The Lightning will have to find a balance that will allow them to capitalize on the Maple Leafs’ current situation without stretching themselves too far and compromising their game against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

This is certainly going to be a battle on the ice tonight, but I have full faith the Bolts will get the job done.

What do you think are the keys to a Lightning victory in Toronto tonight? Do you think the Bolts have what it takes to come home with the two points? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

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Tags: NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

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