Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Lightning Steal Defeat from Jaws of Victory
The Tampa Bay Lightning did almost everything they could possibly do to win today’s hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, but fell short in one key area: the score. Despite outplaying the Red Wings by an absurdly significant margin, the Lightning dropped a 1-0 shootout decision. It was one of those days. Here are Saturday’s thumbs:
Thumbs Down: Missed Opportunity
Any time you outshoot a team by a margin of 33-15, control the puck to the extent that the Lightning did, and receive basically a full two-minute five-on-three late in the third period, it’s tough to imagine losing the game 1-0 in a shootout. And, yet, that’s exactly what the Lightning managed to do in this game. There’s not much to criticize here; the Lightning did exactly what you’d want them to do against a team like the Red Wings, but couldn’t beat Thomas Greiss.
Thumbs Down: Game Management
If you watched more than a handful of minutes in this hockey game, you’ll know that the puck was basically always on a Lightning player’s stick; the Red Wings were chasing the whole afternoon – and much like dogs that chase cars, they weren’t having a lot of success. All of that is to say that it seems a little bit strange that the power play count was only 4-3 in favour of the Lightning. Game management is alive and well in today’s NHL.
Thumbs Down: The Definition of Goalie Interference
The Lightning had what would have been the game-winning goal disallowed after a successful goaltender interference challenge by the Red Wings. There was no doubt that Greiss was impeded in his attempt to make a save on Ryan McDonagh’s would-be goal, but video replay quite clearly showed that it was Detroit’s own Danny DeKeyser that forced Ondrej Palat into the crease. There have been plenty of occasions where the Lightning – and other teams – have been on the wrong side of goalie interference calls because their own defender pushed the opponent into the netminder. For whatever reason, that principle didn’t hold here. I don’t really have a problem with that call being made in a vacuum, but some consistency would be nice.
Thumbs Up: Curtis McElhinney’s Almost Perfect Day
With Andrei Vasilevskiy taking a rest day, Curtis McElhinney got the tap today. While he wasn’t tested very much at all, he still needed to make saves to get the Lightning to the shootout at 0-0. He made every possible save he could, which is all you can ask for in a game like this. By doing so, McElhinney notched a second straight value-add performance, which is really nice to see considering where his game was at earlier in the year.
Thumbs Up: Quantifying the Lightning’s Success
If you need further evidence to support the eye test conclusion that the Lightning bulldozed Detroit in this game, take a look at the underlying numbers for every member of this Lightning team. Of particular note, I draw your attention to the five-on-five expected goal share generated by the Johnson / Killorn / Cirelli line. Are you ready for it? 100.00% per Natural Stat Trick. Not 99.5%. Not even 99.9%. One-hundred percent. When I say that the Red Wings were doing nothing today, I mean it.
The Lightning will get a chance to avenge this odd loss on Sunday afternoon.
As always, thanks for reading.