NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with the Second Round matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Boston Bruins. Watch the Lightning vs. Bruins series series stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Key stats: Bruins-Lightning Second Round Series playoff preview
3.24 vs. 2.39
It is a battle of offense vs. defense as the Lightning bring the NHL’s highest scoring regular season team (3.24 goals per game) into this series against what was the NHL’s top defensive team (Boston’s 2.39 goals against per game).
That 2.39 number for Boston is shockingly good given the goal-scoring numbers across the league, and was not just the top number in the league, it was the top number by a substantial margin. The next closest team was the Dallas Stars at 2.52 goals per game, while no other team in the league had a mark lower than 2.61.
Shockingly good defense.
A big part of that success for Boston was the fact it had a two-headed monster in net with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak serving as its last line of defense. But with Rask opting out of The Return To Play it puts all of the focus on Halak to carry the load as the starter with an unproven backup (Dan Vladar) behind him. Halak is perfectly capable of getting the job done and is no stranger to postseason success.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, remains without a significant part of its regular season offensive attack as Steven Stamkos is still not ready to return. But even without him the Lightning lineup is still a formidable threat thanks to the duo of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point.
That number represents the number of players in this series that finished the regular season among the league’s top-30 scorers, a list that includes David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Kucherov, Stamkos, and Point.
(Obviously Stamkos is not ready at the start, but he could, in theory, still play at some point).
That is more than any other series in the Second Round. By comparison, the Vegas-Vancouver matchup features four such players, while Colorado-Dallas has one and New York-Philadelphia has zero.
Not only are both of these teams great, but they also have incredible individual talent all throughout their lineups.
The number of playoff wins for the Lightning since the start of the 2014-15 season, the highest total in the entire NHL. Their .583 winning percentage in the playoffs is second-highest behind only the Vegas Golden Knights (who have played only 35 postseason games to Tampa Bay’s 72 during that stretch).
Maybe that number surprises, but the Lightning’s postseason issue has never been about their inability to go far into the playoffs. Their First Round sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets a year ago was the outlier. This group has consistently been one of the best performing postseason teams since it came together and has been a regular in the Conference Finals. The issue has always been the ability to finish those series and lift the Stanley Cup, having lost a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final and two different 3-2 series leads in the Eastern Conference Finals. Will this be the year they finish the job? They have a big challenge in the Second Round.
4 vs. 1
The Bruins have not lost many games this season, but when they have, it has usually been at the hands of the Lightning.
In the five head-to-head meetings so far this season (including the Round-Robin game) the Lightning have won four of them. Boston’s only win against Tampa Bay this season was a 2-1 win on March 3 when Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.
Even though the Lightning have owned the season series, it has not been decisive. Four of those games were decided by just a single goal, and the one that was not was a one-goal game until a Kucherov empty-net goal gave the Lightning a 5-3 win on March 7 in Boston.
The number of postseason points Bruins forward David Krejci has compiled in his career, the second-highest total in Bruins franchise history (trailing only 161 from Ray Bourque).
He has been the most underrated Bruins of this era, and has been a consistent producer throughout his career in the playoffs.
This postseason has been no different as he enters the Second Round as the Bruins’ leading scorer with nine points through their first eight games, helping to give the Bruins the type of depth scoring every team needs to seriously compete for a championship.
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 Boston Bruins
Game 1: Sunday, Aug. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, 12 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 5: Monday, Aug. 31 – TBD
*Game 6: Wednesday, Sept. 2 – TBD
*Game 7: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD