Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) makes a save against Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning Hoping to Clinch Playoff Spot with a Win Over Montreal


There is a good chance that the Tampa Bay Lightning may very well secure their spot in the post season tonight; however there are a few things that have to happen first. The most important of which is a win over the Montreal Canadiens.

This may seem like an easy task, but when you take a look at the numbers, this is going to be anything but easy for the Bolts tonight.

The Canadiens have gone 43-26-7 so far this season, winning their last 5 games in a row. However, if the 41-25-9 Lightning have anything to say about it, that streak will end tonight.

Currently, Lightning center Valtteri Filppula is riding a 12 game point streak. Yes, the Finnish native has scored a point in every single game since March 8th against the Boston Bruins. He currently has 25 goals and 32 assists for a total of 57 points to accompany his plus-6 rating. He currently leads the team in both goals and points. Leading the charge in assists is Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Hedman has 12 goals and 35 assists so far this season for a total of 47 points to go along with his plus-3 rating.

On the other side of the ice, it is Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty who is holding it down in regards to points and goals. Pacioretty has 35 goals and 19 assists for a total of 54 points and a plus-6 rating. However, it is defenseman P.K. Subban who is holding down the fort in regards to assists this season. With 10 goals and 43 assists, he is sitting at 53 points so far this season.

When you take a look at the numbers, you will see that tonight’s game is going to be a tough one for the Bolts.

Habs

Bolts

Goals Per Game

2.54

2.88

Goals Against Per Game

2.45

2.6

Shots on Goal Per Game

28.67

29.79

Penalty Minutes Per Game

12.57

10.53

Power Play Goals

48

45

Power Play Percentage

18.2%

18.3%

Penalty Kill Percentage

85.9%

80.3%

 

These two teams have very similar stats until you get to the special teams. This is an area that the Canadiens seem to excel at. While the Lightning have been holding their own as of late, they have fallen into the very bad habit of falling prey to unnecessary penalties that have opened the door for opposing teams to have the man advantage. Should the Bolts open this door tonight, they may find it slammed in their faces.

So far this season, the Lightning have the season series; however, should they fall tonight, they will split the series down the middle. Obviously, for more than one reason, this is not something the Bolts want to have happen.

Doing battle in net tonight will be Big Ben Bishop and Carey Price.

So far this season, Bishop has set a franchise record for most wins in a single season with his 36-2-7 record. Bishop will of course be looking to notch number 37 tonight when the Lightning takes the ice. So far this season, Bishop has a GAA of 2.18 and a Save Percentage of .926.

On the other side of the ice, Price has gone 32-18-5 with a GAA of 2.36 and a Save Percentage of .925.

This is definitely a battle for the ages; one that may very well be repeated in the first round of the playoffs. However, before we can even discuss the post season, these two teams need to get in.

That battle begins tonight.

What do you think are going to be the keys to a Lightning win tonight? Do you think the Bolts will be able to secure themselves a spot in the playoffs before the week is over? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

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Tags: NHL Tampa Bay Lightning