Stanley Cup Playoffs: Panthers face the Lightning as the Sunshine State rivals could be the best two teams in the East.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup face their in-state rivals the Florida Panthers who finished the regular season as the best record in the entire National Hockey League. This second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be played with the Panthers home ice advantage.

The Panthers split their four regular-season meetings with Tampa Bay, losing one of the games in overtime. These are two teams that really know each other very well.

The same two rivals met last year during the 2021 postseason, where Tampa Bay knocked off Florida in six games. The Panthers ended their drought of advancing to the second round for the first time since 1996.

This time around this could be the Lightning defense facing a Panthers offense that was the best in the league in 2021-2022 season. It was the Tampa Bay defense was key in their win in seven games in the first round of the playoffs against Toronto.

So, the focus is clearly going to be on Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the biggest reasons for Tampa Bay winning back-to-back Stanley Cup. The goaltender won the Conn Smythe trophy last year, recording a shutout in every series-clinching win and never lost back-to-back games.

We expect to know the schedule later today.