LGD: One Last Time

Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning come to Toronto looking for two points to jump over the Bruins back into first place in the Atlantic Division. While most of the team is focused on their playoff seeding, one prominent Lightning player will have something else on his mind. No one should fault Steven Stamkos is he’s a little distracted tonight. After eight seasons in the NHL, Stamkos will be heading out onto the ice from the visitors dressing room for the final time, sitting on the bench on the West side of the Air Canada Centre one last time, day dreaming of July when he finally gets to put on his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.  

The Leafs

During his media availability this morning, coach Babcock made it clear that the team intends to have William Nylander surpass the 9 game mark thus burning a year of his entry-level contract. Some fans will protest this, claiming that there is no reason to burn an ELC year in a season that losses mean more than wins but there are a few very good reasons why this all makes sense. Beyond all the contract intricacies, the simple fact that being in the NHL gives Nylander the opportunity to be around Babcock and his coaching staff to hopefully build a working relationship that will give both a head start on the real work that begins next season. Mike Babcock has always proclaimed to be a teacher and for the remaining games, it’s good to see that he wants to work with the organization’s top pupil.

Lineup via DailyFaceoff

After leaving Sunday’s game against Columbus early thanks to a sucker-punch from Dalton Prout, Nikita Kucherov is on the ice this morning and looks like he may be ready to go for the Lightning tonight. Tampa Bay will however, be without Valtteri Filppula  who is listed as day-to-day an upper body injury.  

Sunday’s win over the Blue Jackets snapped a three-game losing streak and the Lightning will hope they can get another easy two points tonight as they have to make the trip to Dallas for a matchup with the Stars on Thursday.

Lineup via DailyFaceoff

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What to Watch For

  • These days, the play of Nylander & Co is the key to watching any Leaf game. How Nylander grows from game to game will be very important (and hopefully fun) to watch.
  • How do the guys from the Marlies stack up next to a Tampa Bay team that is stocked with guys who were similarly dominating the AHL a few years ago. 
  • Is Steven Stamkos letting his eyes wander up into the crowd to see which suite will be best suited for his family next season?