There was one game in the NHL playoffs last night. After a speedy, intrigue-filled Conference Final, the Penguins narrowly eliminated the Lightning. The 2-1 final score was a perfect end to a tight, back-and-forth between two exciting teams.
The Lightning now face some summer uncertainty. Will Stamkos move on? Has Vasilevskiy announced himself as the team’s new starter? With much young talent throughout the roster, there’s no reason to expect Tampa Bay to step back, especially in light of the team’s performance without their biggest star.
For the Penguins, the redemption tour continues. A new team under HC Mike Sullivan, the Penguins now have a chance to secure the Stanley Cup – few likely believed they’d get this chance early in the season.
Before we get to the game charts, a look at Bryan Rust’s two goals last night is a must. The new Pascal Dupuis was excellent when it counted most last night:
Before the game charts, a few words on how to read the graphs:
A couple of notes on reading the charts:
- the Corsi differential is based on 5v5 play and is score-adjusted, as per war-on-ice.
- players at the top (with bars extending to the right) posted positive differentials (good)
- players at the bottom (and to the left) posted negative differentials (bad)
- the colour of each bar represents the player’s time on ice (see legend at the bottom)
- each players individual Corsi For attempts are included in parentheses
- a player with a strong C +/- but a (0) for iCF didn’t directly contribute to his strong showing.
- a player with a weak C +/- but a strong iCF score (i.e. greater than 5) may have been hindered by linemates. Maybe.
- like any reasonable person, I don’t believe that Corsi is everything. But it’s a very important part of the everything.
On to the game chart…
Hornqvist led all last night, finishing near +15 in Corsi differential. Sheary, Malkin, Crosby, and Letang all finished at the top of the game chart – precisely the type of performance a team needs from its star players.
Sheary, Rust, and Garrison each launched 7 iCF. For the Pens, Sheary and Rust have provided plucky forward depth and production. Both produce possession rates in step with Hornqvist, which has been a clear boost for the team.
Despite the positive result, Bonino posted the game’s worst Corsi differential and Hagelin and Fehr were near the bottom as well. For the Lightning, Johnson, Koekkoek, and Killorn were worst. No skater posted a Corsi differential in excess of -10.
In the end, there’s no need for the Lightning to hang their heads. Without their starting goalie and their star forward, Tampa Bay pushed Pittsburgh to the brink, almost returning to the Cup Final. There’s a lot to like about the Lightning for next season and beyond.
Penguins win series 4-3.
Penguins vs Lightning Series Corsi Differential
*for a larger view, click here.
The Penguins dominated the puck in this series. Kunitz was best, posting ~+40 in Corsi differential during the seven-game set. Lovejoy, Hornqvist, Daley, Rust, Malkin, Crosby, Sheary…the Pens own the top-11 slots on the graph.
For the Lightning, Killorn was best. Kucherov managed a positive differential in heavy usage at 5v5 during the series.
At the negative end, the Lightning dominate the series chart. Johnson, Drouin, and Palat were worst in the series and Tampa owns the bottom-seven spots. Hagelin was worst for the Pens, which is a small oddity.