The Lightning has been impressive in their two wins in the qualifying round-robin tournament in Toronto.
The Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 to start the round-robin on Monday. They followed that up with a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
Tonight on NBC, the Lightning will play their final round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
This game will be for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers have been impressive in this round-robin tournament beating the Boston Bruins 3-1, and the Washington Capitals 4-1.
The Lightning will play the Montreal Canadiens if they beat the Flyers tonight in the first round of the playoffs. If they lose to the Flyers, they could be looking at a rematch with Columbus, or the Toronto Maple Leafs depending on that how that series comes out.
The Lightning has already secured one of the top two spots in the Eastern Conference.
This matchup against a Flyers team will be a good one.
The Flyers finished fourth in the Eastern Conference during the regular season with 89 points and now have a chance to win the number one seed in the east.
Jakob Voracek will be out for the Flyers tonight. The Flyers will miss his game as he scored 12 goals and added 44 assists during the regular season.
Lightning forward Steven Stamkos will miss the game as well. It does not look like he will be playing anytime soon.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper when asked about the status of Stamkos said, “Injuries are unpredictable, and if there’s somebody that’s working harder than him, I have not seen it in trying to get back. “He’s rehabbing. Our staff has been working with him daily, and in situations like this you never know.”
Cooper went on to say he will let everyone know when his status changes.
The Lightning would like to win this matchup with the Flyers, but the Lightning have their eyes on the big prize and that is the Stanley Cup.
The Lightning has played against two big physical opponents and sent messages early on that they were not going to be pushed around like that have been in past seasons.
Victor Hedman said it is more about how the Lightning is playing and working on the things to improve on. “For us, it’s all about gaining momentum going into the playoffs. That’s where we go in with the mentality, is to win the game and continue to work on the things we need to improve on and keep doing the things that we’ve been doing good so far.”
Locking up the first seed also has its advantages according to Hedman. “Having the first seed you’re guaranteed the last change and you can get the matchups that you want a little bit better.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start for the Lightning. Cooper would like to get back up goaltender Curtis McElhinney some Work before the first of the playoffs start. It will depend on how the game goes against the Flyers.
The Lightning went 2-0 against the Flyers this season. The Lightning were 1-0 winners in Philly in January. The Lightning then beat the Flyers in February at Amalie 5-3.
This will be the first matchup in the playoffs between these two teams since game seven of the Eastern Conference finals in 2004.
That game won by the Lightning sent them to the Stanley Cup finals.
Cooper has been impressed with the Flyers play in the round-robin tournament. “They’re rolling so it’s going to be a really good test for us. They’re an explosive team, they’re a dynamic team. They’ve got the kid in net (Carter Hart) who’s matured. They’ve just matured as a team.”
This should be another epic battle. The way the Lightning have handled two of the best teams in the East so far, this should be a game that the Lightning puts in the win column to secure the top seed in the East.