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Scouting the Enemy: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 24-37-18

Leading scorers: Martin St. Louis (29G, 49A), Vinny Lecavalier (29G, 38A)

Blogs: Raw Charge

Sometimes going up against a basement dweller can produce some rather boring hockey.  However there is an underlying theme to many of the games tonight.  If the Pittsburgh Penguins win, Florida loses to Philly and the Canadiens beat the Rangers then the Pens are guaranteed a playoff berth.  The good part about this is it's not a dire must-win situation.  However it would be nice to take care of business. 

Let's just see the Pens pick up a win, huh?

You can't help but think the odds are heavily in Pitt's favor.  Tampa Bay are losers in six straight.  Their overall record is second to last in the East and in the bottom three for the league and to make matters even worse the team is skating without all-star center Vinny Lecavalier after he opted to undergo season-ending orthoscopic surgery on his right wrist Friday afternoon. 

Goaltender Mike Smith hasn't started a game since January 30 and remains on the shelf with post-concussion symptoms.  Back-up netminder Karri Ramo is 4-8-7 on the year and will likely get the start between the pipes tonight.

The Penguins have been shutout three times this season, one of which came against the Lightning back in December.  Pitt has the edge in the season series at 2-1-0 and will look to take the series tonight.  If anything let's hope this game allows Evgeni Malkin to pick up a few points in the scoring race.  Alex Ovechkin is edging uncomfortably close to Malkin's 106-point total, now only two behind for the race.  Looks like it will come down to this final week after all.

Random stats: Despite their position in the standings, Tampa Bay are much more efficient on the PP than Pitt.  They are currently ranked 18th in the league, five spots higher than Pitt's 23rd.  However their penalty kill is 25th in the league compared to Pitt's spot at 13th.