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Game Five quick reaction: Tampa Bay Lightning are Eastern Conference Final-bound

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After banishing the Bruins, the Bolts advance.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Driving home from game five, I had plenty of time to reflect on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s series win over the Boston Bruins. Here are some thoughts.

The Penalty Kill

The penalty kill continued to have some issues. I guarantee that over the next handful of days, that is going to be one of the primary focuses of the Lightning’s practice. Jon Cooper, Rick Bowness, and the rest of the staff need to find some answers.

I will give it to David Krejci for his goal. He made a great shot from a spot that’s hard to defend. We often cheer Steven Stamkos for putting those kind of goals in, but I do see fans blaming Andrei Vasilevskiy for those kind of goals. We really can’t have it both ways. Either the goalie sucks or the shooter was good. I suppose it can simultaneously be both, but in this case it was Krejci making a perfect shot in a spot that was nearly impossible for Vasilevskiy to get to.

Fortunately, when it came down to it in that last penalty kill, leading by one, with four minutes left in the third period, the penalty kill came up big. Include Vasilevskiy. He made the saves, the Lightning cleared some pucks, and Ryan Callahan killed time in the Bruins’ zone. It was a great effort all around by the Lightning and helped to seal the game.

Depth and Five-on-Five Scoring

While Bruins fans are pointing to the referees as the reason the Bruins lost the series, the reality is that some of the calls were bad AND the Lightning outplayed them. The Lightning were able to get scoring from all over their lineup while the Bruins didn’t. The Lightning were also successful at five-on-five, and the Bruins couldn’t score at all at even strength for three games.

The Lightning picked up goals from 11 different players in the series and points from 15 different players. Only Ryan Callahan, Chris Kunitz, and Braydon Coburn finished the series without a point. On the other hand for the Bruins, 8 different players scored, and 8 different players picked up a point.

The ability of the Lightning to play a sound defensive game no matter who was on the ice, and their ability to get scoring from every line and defensive pair was the difference for the Lightning. They were the better team, and the result of the series shows it.

Plus-Minus and Brayden Point

Ok, before Loserpoints yells at me for using plus-minus, I want to admit that it is a flawed stat. There’s a lot wrong with it, one reason being you get dinged for empty net goals and being scored on when it’s six-on-five and you benefit when it goes the other way for you. But sometimes there are still interesting thoughts that can be pulled from it when you look a little deeper. Like this one: Brayden Point went from a minus-five after the first game to a plus-two by the end of the series.

Now let’s take out any empty netters and also do a separate goal differential that includes special teams, but not empty netters for and against. I’m just going to make up a couple stats right now; aESGD (adjusted Even Strength Goal Differential) and aGD (adjusted Goal Differential). [Lol. - Acha]

aESGD will be a plus and minus accumulation for even strength goals minus empty netters. aGD is the same, but includes power play and shorthanded goals for and against respectively. For both stats, empty net goals are disregarded, though goals scored for with your own net empty have been counted. Here is how Point stacks up.

  • Game One - minus-4 aESGD, minus-3 aGD.
  • Game Two - plus-1 aESGD, plus-2 aGD.
  • Game Three - plus-2 aESGD, plus-2 aGD.
  • Game Four - plus-1 aESGD, plus-1 aGD.
  • Game Five - plus-1 aESGD, plus-2 aGD
  • Series - plus-1 aESGD, plus-4 aGD

So what that shows us is that Point did pretty well to rebound from that ugly first game. More so, we can see that he also had a solid amount of impact with special teams play as well when he was on the ice. These stats are probably worthless and better tracked by something already in place, but I thought it a fun exercise. For comparison, I figured we could also look at the player that was clearly the Bruins’ best player in Patrice Bergeron.

  • Game One - plus-3 aESGD, plus-3 aGD
  • Game Two - even aESGD, even aGD
  • Game Three - even aESGD, plus-1 aGD
  • Game Four - minus-1 aESGD, plus-1 aGD
  • Game Five - even aESGD, plus-1 aGD
  • Series - plus-2 aESGD, plus-6 aGD

What’s interesting is that both players finished plus-two by traditional plus-minus. Both players played against each other for most of the series. And both players were prominent on the power play and on the penalty kill. Bergeron had a bit more of an impact at even strength and on special teams. Of course, for the Lightning, there was more coming from the rest of their line-up.

Playoff Scoring Race

Ranks and stats are prior to the completion of the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights game on Sunday evening

One side effect of the Lightning’s balanced scoring is that they aren’t at the top of the scoring lists. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron sit third, fourth, and fifth in points with 20, 17, and 16 respectively. Nikita Kucherov sits at tied-11th with his 12 points, while Point and Steven Stamkos are tied-20th with 10 points a piece.

It’s not inconceivable for the Bruins trio to remain in the top ten for a little bit longer. Last year’s playoffs, they would have finished 5th, 8th, and tied-9th respectively. Of course, like the regular season, it seems that scoring overall is up in these playoffs from last season. Only four players reached 20 points in the 2016-17 playoffs with all four players coming from the Pittsburgh Penguins. This year, we’re not even done with the second round and the Penguins already have two players at 20 points, plus Pastrnak at 20 points.

It will be interesting to watch through the rest of the playoffs to see how the scoring race plays out, weather any Lightning players are in it or not.