Patrick Marleau, Antti Niemi

Who has the best and worst shot differential in the NHL?

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Earlier in the week, we looked at the best and worst special teams in the NHL. After which one commenter wrote, “These numbers don’t mean jack.”

So in hopes of building off such a rave review, here are the shot differentials for all 30 teams, ranked from highest to lowest:

S/G SA/G Diff
1 SAN JOSE 35.0 27.9 7.1
2 CHICAGO 33.3 27.3 6.0
3 LOS ANGELES 31.5 26.4 5.1
4 NY RANGERS 33.0 29.6 3.4
5 BOSTON 32.2 28.9 3.3
6 ANAHEIM 31.4 28.5 2.9
7 ST LOUIS 29.1 26.3 2.8
8 VANCOUVER 30.7 28.8 1.9
9 PITTSBURGH 30.0 28.8 1.2
10 DALLAS 31.6 30.5 1.1
11 NY ISLANDERS 30.8 30.0 0.8
12 NEW JERSEY 26.4 25.6 0.8
13 CAROLINA 31.5 30.9 0.6
14 NASHVILLE 29.3 28.8 0.5
15 DETROIT 30.1 29.6 0.5
16 WINNIPEG 30.8 30.4 0.4
17 TAMPA BAY 29.7 29.3 0.4
18 PHILADELPHIA 30.0 30.1 -0.1
19 PHOENIX 31.1 31.7 -0.6
20 MINNESOTA 27.0 28.1 -1.1
21 CALGARY 26.7 28.1 -1.4
22 COLUMBUS 29.2 30.7 -1.5
23 FLORIDA 29.7 31.2 -1.5
24 OTTAWA 32.7 34.5 -1.8
25 MONTREAL 28.7 30.5 -1.8
26 COLORADO 29.3 32.7 -3.4
27 WASHINGTON 30.0 33.5 -3.5
28 EDMONTON 27.0 32.4 -5.4
29 TORONTO 27.9 36.2 -8.3
30 BUFFALO 26.2 34.6 -8.4

 

— These numbers mean something. Three of the top five teams are the last four Stanley Cup winners, and right down at the bottom you have the NHL’s worst team.

— Yep, that’s why goaltending has been so important in Toronto, Colorado and Montreal this season. The Maple Leafs in particular have played a dangerous game with all the time they’ve spent in their own end. In a related story, Joffrey Lupul’s attempted clearance last night versus Tampa Bay will not go down as the best ever:

— In addition to shot quantity, there’s definitely a discussion to be had about shot quality. In fact, it’s one of the most talked about topics in the stats community. You hear arguments like this all the time with teams like the Islanders: How can you blame their poor goalies with all the defensive gaffes they make that lead to prime scoring chances? And there’s something to be said for that argument. That being said, Garth Snow has to do something about his goaltending. The last time the most important position in hockey was a strength on Long Island was what, 2006-07?

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final with a score of 5 to 2 during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.