Back in a ‘groove,’ Lightning will try to widen gap over Leafs

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The blockbuster Martin St. Louis trade for Ryan Callahan.

The return from a broken leg.

Yep, “It’s been pretty crazy,” Lightning captain (their new one) Steven Stamkos admitted ahead of tonight’s game versus the Leafs in Toronto, per the Globe and Mail.

And Stamkos is hoping the craziness, not to mention the adversity, is in the past.

“We struggled a little bit out of the gate,” he said of his team’s performance after the Olympics, “but I think we’ve found our groove now. It’s been fun. This group of guys that we have is something that I think can be special this year. We’re believing in each other and everyone is stepping up.”

Indeed, Tampa Bay has won three straight after its post-break slump, lifting itself out of that wild-card zone that’s going to come with a daunting first-round matchup against either Boston or Pittsburgh. If the playoffs started today, the Lightning would meet the Canadiens.

As you can see below, a win over the Leafs would go a long way toward staying out of the wild-card zone for the rest of the season. A regulation loss, however, and it’s right back in it.


Related: Playoff bubble watch — Leafs edition