Florida Panthers (32-25-6) at Tampa Bay Lightning (45-17-4)
Tuesday, March 6th at 7:30 EST – SUN, FS-F
These two Florida rivals are about to go at it again on Tuesday in what should be a very entertaining match. The Panthers have just won six straight games sweeping their most recent home stand which puts them one point out of the playoffs when not too long ago they sat ten points outside of the wild card spots.
The Lightning made a splash at the trade deadline acquiring J.T Miller and Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers. These two players now make the Lightning a serious contender for the Stanley Cup in June.
The Panthers have shown recently that they are a serious team making a run at the playoffs and they have a lot more to lose than their Florida counterparts. The Lightning are going to make the playoffs and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it.
The Panthers are playing playoff hockey right now and will be until the actual postseason starts in April. Every game has to be their best if they want to postpone golf until later. The Lightning can expect a strong showing from the Panthers as it also helps that this is a pretty healthy rivalry.
Keys for the Lightning include getting shots to the net and suffocating the offensive powerhouse that is Evgenii Dadanov and Aleksander Barkov. These Russian rockets are burying pucks left and right scoring ten points each in their last six games. If the Lightning can successfully keep those two in check, the offensive production for Florida will most likely be halted unless someone else in their offensive lineup steps up.
As for getting shots on Luongo, he’s a good goaltender so he needs to be tested from everywhere consistently. If Tampa Bay is waiting for the perfect offensive play then they won’t get nearly as many chances as they need to get a good amount past Luongo.
For the Panthers, get the puck to Dadanov and Barkov. Pass it to them and let them work their magic that they have been demonstrating for the past six games. The Lightning will be looking for these two but if they get enough chances, eventually the Lightning will make a mistake on defense.
Second key is to not get intimidated and start playing passive. The Lightning are a successful team and that is for good reason but they aren’t invincible and especially not to the Panthers. On the six-game home stand in which the Panthers won all six, they beat five teams that are currently in the playoffs. The Panthers can win against good teams which is a good sign moving forward.
Here’s comes the moment where I make a prediction and get it wrong so congratulations Panthers. I’m going to guess that the streak has to end at some point and I’m thinking the Lightning are the ones to do it. It will be a close one and here is the kicker. The Panthers will keep their point streak going. 2-1 Lightning in overtime and Barkov gets the only goal for Florida.