Time: 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Opponent SBNation Site: Stanley Cup of Chowder
This series promises to be a close one. Unless Tuukka Rask falters, or Vasilevskiy falters, both of these teams match up pretty well. As @loserpoints discussed in yesterday’s analytical series preview, this is a very tight one. When I look down the forward line-up and compare each line, they come out as a wash or slightly better for the Lightning in the top three lines, and slightly better in the fourth line for Boston. On the defensive side, when I do the same thing, I still come out with a similar position for the top three defensemen: a wash or slightly better in the Lightning’s favor, but muddier when we get to four through six.
In net though, I think the Lightning have a clear advantage. Vasilevskiy was consistent throughout his five games in the first round. He never posted below a .923 save percentage (SV%) and he only allowed three goals twice in the series and never more than that. He further tightened up his play in the last two games of the series posting a .964 and .963 SV%. Both goals he allowed came when the Lightning were under strength, one at five-on-three and one at six-on-five for the Devils.
Rask, on the other hand, had a very up and down series for the Boston Bruins. He had two pretty spectacular games in game one and game four when he only gave up a goal a piece and had a .963 and .969 SV%. But he was atrocious in three games, and average-to-good in the other two games. Here, let me show you his SV% game to game through the seven game series: .963, .909, .867, .969, .692, .931, .833.
It’s interesting to look at those save percentages because one of his pretty good games, game six, he had a .931 SV% and only allowed two goals, but lost when Frederik Andersen had an even better game with a .970 SV% and allowed just one goal. It’s also interesting that he had an absolutely atrocious game seven with an .833 SV%. He was saved by the Bruins clamping down hard in the third period in front of him and picking apart Andersen.
For both teams, it’s going to come down to who can keep the opposition under three goals. Vasilevskiy did that three out of five times (60%) against the Devils while Rask did that three out of seven times (42.8%) against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning only scored three non-empty-net goals in two of their five games, while Boston did that in five of seven games. But you also have to consider that the Lightning played a significantly stronger goaltender in Cory Schneider and his .950 SV% for three and a half games.
With a week off, the Lightning are well rested while the Bruins are coming off just two days of rest and traveling to Tampa for this Saturday’s afternoon start. The Lightning need to shake the rust off quickly from their week off and have a quick start against the Bruins. They need to take advantage of tired and banged up players and take an early lead here in the series.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
J.T. Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Yanni Gourde
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Mikhail Sergachev
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash
Danton Heinen - Riley Nash - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Matt Grzelcyk - Adam McQuaid