The Tampa Bay Lightning are arguably the hands-down favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2019. They hold a remarkable 15-point lead for the top spot in the Presidents’ Trophy Race and seem destined to make a serious run in the postseason. Today, we look at the team’s numbers.
While no other team in the NHL has a higher points-won percentage than 66%, the Lightning own a 77.6% point-winning percentage and are on pace to finish with 127 points this season. They also have a goal differential of +70, while the second-ranked Toronto Maple Leafs are way behind them with a goal differential of +44. Tampa Bay has a 23-5-2 record at home while the next highest total of home wins is 21 (Boston and Winnipeg). They are also the only team in the NHL with 20 road wins, though the Maple Leafs are right behind them with 19 and have a game in hand.
The Lightning’s average of 3.88 goals-per-game and remarkable power-play efficiency of 29.8%, 3% more than the next highest scoring power-play (Boston Bruins). They get the second-most power-plays at home (108) and are third in power-play goals at home (30) and first on the road (27). Overall, they convert 27.8% of their power-play opportunities at home. A big reason their scoring numbers on the power-play are so high is that they draw an average of 3.47 penalties-per-game, the third highest rate.
When leading after one period of play, they have 22 wins (a league-high) while losing just three — only one in regulation. In addition, the Lightning have the best winning percentage when trailing after one period (58.8%) and after two periods (42.9%). Their 23 wins when getting outshot by opponents are second in the NHL.
They have three of the top-10 scorers in the NHL in forward Nikita Kucherov, who ranks first with 66 assists (no other player has more than 60) and 92 points; center Brayden Point, who ranks seventh with 74 points and is tied for second with 33 goals; and center Steven Stamkos, who ranks seventh with 32 goals and 10th with 69 points this season. The only other team to have multiple players in the top-10 in points is the Colorado Avalanche (forward Mikko Rantanen (76) is fifth and center Nathan MacKinnon (75) is sixth).
In addition, Tampa has four forwards with 20+ goals, with the other being forward Tyler Johnson (20). All four of their centers have scored 10+ goals (Mathieu Joseph (13) and Anthony Cirelli (11).
Only one team — Pittsburgh — has more players ranked in the top-30 assist leaders (four) than the Lightning (three). The Lightning are one of two teams with multiple players in the top-10 in the NHL’s goal-scoring leaders (Edmonton Oilers – centers Leon Draisaitl – 33 – and Connor McDavid – 31). The only other team to have three players ranked in the top-30 in goals is the San Jose Sharks (C Joe Pavelski – 30 – F Evander Kane and C Tomas Hertl – 26).
The Lightning’s shooting percentage of 12% is first in the NHL and their 79 high-danger chance goals-for of 79 is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for second.
The Lightning’s average of 2.72 goals-against per game is the fifth-least in the NHL even though they allow the 11th-most shots in the NHL (32.2).
They have nine players who have a +10 rating or higher, including four defensemen. Defenseman Victor Hedman’s +25 rating is tied with Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie for fourth in the NHL.
After Tampa Bay owned the fourth-worst penalty kill, which had an efficiency of 76.1%, a season ago, they rank third this year with a kill efficiency of 84.4%. Their 11 power-play goals against are tied for second best in the league.
Their 1,472 hits rank sixth in the league and their 497 giveaways the seventh-fewest in the league.
Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy missed about a month earlier this season with a broken foot but his backup Louie Domingue has excelled as he faced a higher workload, going 18-4-0 with a save percentage of .907 and a goals-against average of 2.90 this season. When Vasilevskiy has been healthy, he has been his same old self, going 24-7-4 with a save percentage of .927, the third-highest in the NHL, a 2.39 goals-against average, the fifth-lowest in the NHL, and five shutouts, second in the NHL (Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury: 6).
Vasilevskiy has a .918 save percentage when the Lightning are shorthanded this season, leading the league in that category, and has a .926 save percentage at even-strength, the 10th-best. Vasilevskiy and Domingue are 13th and 14th, respectively, in save percentage in the shootout, posting respective save percentages of .875 and .857. Vasilevskiy’s two assists this season is tied for the fourth-most in the NHL while Domingue’s one assist is tied for the 11th-most.
Overall, the Lightning rank 11th in the NHL with a team save percentage of 92%, though their high-danger save percentage of 79.9% ranks 26th in the NHL.
The Capitals Have To Play Tampa Three Times In The Final 11 Games Of The Season
The Capitals will play the Lightning three times in a span of eight games over the course of the final two weeks of March. One of those meetings will be the second game of a back-to-back for the Capitals, as they take on the New Jersey Devils in Newark the night before while the Lightning will be in their hotel in Washington.
When the Capitals will face the Lightning in Tampa Bay, they will be in the midst of two Eastern Conference road trips of at least three games both times.
While the Lightning are dangerous, the Capitals were able to come an almost identical Tampa team in the playoffs last year.
While Tampa’s regular-season numbers are impressive, Presidents’ Trophy winners have fallen short of expectations in recent postseasons and the Lightning have struggled in the postseason with a much of the same group of players in recent years. The last President’s Trophy team to win the Cup was the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2012-2013 season. Tampa is very, very talented and will be the favorite against every team they face in the postseason, but the team with the best team on paper doesn’t always win. Just ask the Capitals.
By Harrison Brown