Despite getting minimal offensive production from their top two forwards, the Tampa Bay Lightning still have a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Boston Bruins.
Both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have been quiet in the second round. Stamkos got his first point of the series late in Game 3 when he buried an empty-netter, but his Russian teammate still hasn’t produced a single point.
Interestingly enough, Stamkos and Kucherov have positive CF% numbers in the first two games of the series, but they were relatively low on the totem pole compared to the rest of their teammates. For example, in Game 1, Stamkos had a CF% of 67.74 percent and Kucherov was at 68.97 percent. On the surface, that looks pretty good, and it is. But when you take a deeper look at what the rest of the team did, you’ll notice that every player was above 50 percent. Five players had a higher percentage than Kucherov, while Stamkos tied for seventh (stats via hockeystats.ca)
Stamkos’ 66.67 percent CF% was third-best on his team in Game 2, but Kucherov’s 54.55 CF% was second-worst after Brayden Point.
Those numbers dropped off significantly in Game 3, as Stamkos (28.57 percent) and Kucherov (28.57 percent) were two of the three worst forwards on the Bolts roster in that category. On the flip side, the Bolts jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in that game, so it’s normal that the Bruins were a little more eager to fire pucks toward the Lightning net, but the numbers are still telling.
This is just the second time in 2017-18 that that Kucherov has gone three games without recording a point. The first time this occurred was back in January, when the 24-year-old failed to pick up a point in games against Minnesota, Chicago and Nashville. The Bolts ended up going 2-1 during that stretch, which is exactly where they are right now. That just goes to show how deep this Lightning squad is. They’re able to get limited production from their best players and still look like the better team against a tough opponent.
From Boston’s perspective, you have to be happy that you’ve kept these guys off the scoresheet, but they probably come away from the first three games frustrated because they’re still down in the series. They have to expect that the two franchise forwards will wake up at some point, so before that happens, they have to make sure they play themselves back into this series.