The Atlantic Division’s No. 2 seed Tampa Bay Lightning will face off against the No. 3 Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs – the exact matchup from a year ago.
Detroit got great goaltending from Petr Mrazek last year, registering two shutouts, but the Lightning’s Ben Bishop posted his first shutout of the playoffs in the deciding Game 7 to earn Tampa Bay the series win and set the team’s course for the Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay’s regular-season record of 46-31-5 for 97 points is 11 points below last season’s franchise-record mark while Detroit dropped from 100 points in 2014-15 to a 41-30-11 record for 93 points this year.
The Lightning will be starting without Captain Steven Stamkos, who sat out the final five games with a blood clot in his right arm. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, only 19, is a sure-bet to be a Calder Trophy finalist. The key will be the play of Bishop, who was stellar this season, posting a 2.06 goals against average and a .926 save percentage on his way to 31 wins.
In four meetings during the 2015-1016 regular season, each team took home two wins.