Time: 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: NBC, NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2, 970 WFLA
Opponent SBNation Site: All About The Jersey
The story in game three and four in New Jersey was most definitely Cory Schneider. After coming in during game two in relief of Keith Kinkaid, he’s been pretty excellent for the Devils. This was definitely a worry going into the two games in New Jersey because he is a very good goalie even though he has struggled for much of this season.
Schneider has given up a combined four goals in the two and a half games he has played. In game three, the Lightning struggled to score against him at even strength, picking up their two goals on the power play. In game four though, they found a way to beat him at even strength, with the first line coming through with two goals in the first period.
Overall, the Lightning have controlled possession through this series. No forward is under 50% Corsi-For and Dan Girardi is the only defensemen under the 50% mark. The first line in general has had some struggles with generating offensive zone time. That changed a bit in game four and brought their numbers up, but they’re still down the rankings a bit. When sorting by Corsi-For per 60 minutes TOI (CF60), Miller ranks 4th, Stamkos 10th, and Kucherov 13th among the teams forwards. The spread is due to some random shifts where Miller and/or Kucherov have been separated from their regular partners.
The fourth line has been the best at limiting offensive opportunities and have generally been better than the Devils’ fourth line when they’ve matched up against each other. The Lightning have depth, and their fourth line is no exception. Paquette and Kunitz are up around the 59% mark in CF%. Callahan in his two games was up at 75% and Conacher in his two is around 54%. So obviously the fourth line did better in the first two games when the Lightning controlled the match-ups, but they still did well for themselves in the two games in New Jersey.
On the back end, Mikhail Sergachev has very good numbers in his limited ice time. Rick Bowness has been careful in his usage of Sergachev and has given him plenty of offensive zone starts and selective match-ups. He’s taken advantage with a 64% CF%. He has yet to be on ice for a goal, but he also hasn’t been on ice for a goal allowed at even strength.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, McDonagh and Coburn have the next best CF60 of the group and have the 2nd and 3rd best CF% among the defensemen. When looking at Corsi Against per 60 minutes (CA60), Coburn also fares very well only allowing 40.02 CA60. That’s second to Sergachev who has played 40% less at even strength than Coburn. The stats here back up some of the eye test we’ve seen in this series. Coburn hasn’t looked the greatest at times this year, but he’s shown up and played a strong game against the Devils.
Interestingly enough, Girardi has the worse CA60, CF60, and CF%, but has maintained a positive Goals For Percentage (GF%). Only Stralman has fared worse in the GF% department. Stralman currently sits as the second worst in CA60 and third worst in CF60. I think this is mostly due to the fact he’s been going up against Taylor Hall a lot and has been tasked to be a shut-down defenseman. That does open up Hedman to be more aggressive in the offensive zone against lesser opponents.
Further evidence is that Stralman and McDonagh, often paired together, have the worst Expected Goals Against (xGA) on the blue line. This means that the Devils against them have been getting to high danger areas more often and have been getting more shot attempts against them than against the Lightning’s other defensemen.
All stats provided by Corsica.hockey and are Score and Venue adjusted.
Getting back to game five though, the Lightning have a great opportunity to close this one out and get some rest before the second round. They’re a veteran team and I expect that they’ll come out strong despite the 3 PM afternoon start. They know how important taking this game and closing it out is for their success in the postseason.
The keys for the Lightning will be for the Point line to shut down Taylor Hall, the overall team to continue their advantages in possessing the puck, and for Vasilevskiy to have another solid performance. He only allowed one goal in game four, coming on a five-on-three penalty kill, and he looked like the Vasilevskiy that had been the front runner for the Vezina for three-quarters of the season. That’s the Vasilevskiy that this team needs to go deep and it’d be good to see him build on that and match that performance in today’s game.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
J.T. Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - ?
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Yanni Gourde
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Matthew Peca
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh — Mikhail Sergachev
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
New Jersey Devils
Will Sami Vatanen return after his injury from Kucherov’s hit?
Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - Patrick Maroon
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Stefan Noesen
Michael Grabner - Brian Boyle - Brian Gibbons
Andy Greene — ?
John Moore — Mirco Mueller
Will Butcher — Ben Lovejoy