Throughout the 2018-19 regular season we took an occasional look at some stunning numbers around the NHL.
We will continue that in the playoffs after each round and start it off today with a look at some truly stunning numbers from what was an insane two weeks of hockey.
Here is what we found.
Tampa Bay’s all-time clunker of a postseason
The Tampa Bay Lightning were the best team in the NHL during the regular season, tying a league record for most wins (62) and finishing with a league-best goal differential of plus-103.
That was more than 40 goals better than the second-best team in the league (Calgary at plus-62).
They followed it up in the playoffs by not winning a single game and getting outscored by a 19-8 margin, including 19-5 after the first period of Game 1.
How unfathomable was that performance? Not only were they first Presidents’ Trophy winning team to ever be swept, but they were also just the second team to ever win at least 50 games in the regular season and then fail to win even a single playoff game. The only other team to suffer that fate was the 2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks who won 50 regular season games and were swept by the Nashville Predators.
The Lightning are also the only team that has ever won at least 55 games and failed to win a playoff game. Just a bad performance all around.
Well, five minutes and 51 seconds to be exact.
What does that represent? The amount of time that the Pittsburgh Penguins spent playing with the lead in their Round 1 series against the New York Islanders. Even Tampa Bay had the lead for at least 48 minutes in its series sweep against Columbus.
It almost seems impossible to have that much talent and spend so little time ahead. It is even more astonishing when you realize the Penguins actually scored the first goal in three of the four games. They just immediately gave it right back every single time.
In Game 2 they allowed the game-tying goal just three minutes after Erik Gudbranson scored.
In Game 3 they allowed the tying goal less than a minute after Garrett Wilson scored.
In Game 4 they allowed the tying goal less than 90 seconds after Jake Guentzel scored.
And that was it.
At the other end of the spectrum, no team spent more time playing with the lead in Round 1 than the Vegas Golden Knights, 218:55 ahead of the San Jose Sharks. Boston was the only other team to spend more than 200 minutes ahead. Vegas still lost the series, which also seems hard to believe.
Auston Matthews mostly watches another Game 7
There are a lot of things you can criticize Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock for (not winning anything of significance in nearly a decade being near the top of the list) but his bizarre player usage has to be a big one right now. With the Maple Leafs’ season on the line in Game 7, a game they were trailing for more than 40 minutes, a game where they never had to kill a penalty, their best player saw the ice for only 18 minutes and 48 seconds. There is really no excuse for that, especially when this exact same thing happened a year ago when Matthews played only 18:06 in their Game 7 loss to the same Bruins teams. You are paying this guy more than $10 million per year to be your franchise player, how you do not ride or die with him with your season on the line is a mystery.
Nashville’s power play was a giant zero
Literally, a zero.
The Predators failed to score a power play goal against the Dallas Stars, going 0-for-15 in the six game series. It is only the 11th time in NHL history that a team had at least 15 power play opportunities in the playoffs and did not score a single goal.
This is a big reason they are not moving on, and a big area they will have to address over the summer.
Dallas’ top line dominance
The other big reason the Stars were able to eliminate the Predators was the play of their top line. This wasn’t just a great series for the Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov trio, it was a complete beat down.
That trio played 50 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time together and put up the following numbers:
Goals for-Goals Against: 5-0
Shot Attempt Share: 56.5 percent (73 for, 56 against)
Scoring Chance Share: 57.6 percent (49 for, 36 against)
High-Danger Scoring Chance Share: 65.0 percent (26 for, 14 against)
Sure makes things easier for everybody else when you have a line doing that to a team.
Warren Foegele, surprising offensive star for Hurricanes
The Hurricanes used a strong defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack to knock out the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. The surprising offensive star for them was 22-year-old Warren Foegele who scored four goals in the seven games. He did that after scoring just 10 goals during the entire regular season.
That was the win probability, via MoneyPuck.com, for the San Jose Sharks when they were trailing, 3-0, with less than 10 minutes to play in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
It was at that point that everything was flipped upside down when Cody Eakin was given a controversial five-minute major for cross-checking, setting the stage for one of the wildest Game 7s you will ever see.
Brent Burns never seemed to leave the ice
The Sharks have two of the NHL’s best defensemen in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, and they both logged a ton of minutes in their Round 1 over the Golden Knights. They were 1-2 in the NHL in time on ice, but Burns was on a level all his own. He averaged more than 30 minutes per game (nearly three minutes more than Karlsson, who was second) and played a total of 213:18. Nobody else in the first round played more than 190. That is a lot of ice time.
PHT’s Round 2 previews
• Round 2 schedule, TV info
• Questions for the final eight teams
• PHT Roundtable
• Conn Smythe favorites after Round 1
• Blue Jackets vs. Bruins
• Hurricanes vs. Islanders
• Blues vs. Stars
• Avalanche vs. Sharks