Lightning vs. Bruins playoff series preview: By the numbers

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.

[Full NHL Second Round schedule]


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

*if necessary

• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule
PHT Second Round Predictions


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Blue Jackets acquire D Damon Severson from Devils after he signs 8-year deal

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils on Friday after the veteran defenseman and soon-to-be free agent signed an eight-year $50 million contract.

    Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen sent a third-round pick, 80th overall, in this month’s draft to the Devils for Severson, who will be under contract through the 2030-31 NHL season.

    Severson had 58 goals and 205 assists in 647 career appearances with the Devils since making his NHL debut in 2014-15. He scored seven game-winning goals and averaged more than 21 minutes of playing time during his nine seasons. The 28-year-old had seven goals and 26 assists this season, including two game-winning goals, in 81 games.

    “Damon is a versatile defenseman who has great vision, moves the puck extremely well, has good size and can play heavy minutes at both ends of the ice,” Kekalainen said.

    The Canadian was selected in the second round in the 2012 draft. He has collected 30 or more points five times in his career and twice notched 11 or more goals. He played in every game in three straight seasons from 2018-21 and has played 80 or more contests four times in his career.

    With the addition of the third-round pick, New Jersey now has six selections in the draft, including its own picks in rounds two, four, five, six and seven.

    Matthew Tkachuk returns from big hit in Stanley Cup Final, adds more playoff heroics

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    Matthew Tkachuk was down, out briefly and then back with plenty of time to make a difference.

    The Florida Panthers star left early in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after a big hit from Vegas Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar, and he missed most of the first period and didn’t return immediately following intermission while being evaluated for a concussion. After looking as if he might be lost for the night, Tkachuk returned in the second and then came through with more of his now trademark playoff heroics.

    Tkachuk scored the tying goal with 2:13 left in regulation, forcing overtime and giving the Panthers new life. He then provided the screen on Carter Verhaeghe‘s OT goal for a 3-2 victory that cut Florida’s series deficit to 2-1.

    The 25-year-old said he knew he was coming back when he left the game, pulled by concussion spotters. That absence felt like a long time ago in the aftermath of another big win he was largely responsible for.

    “I felt great – I feel great,” Tkachuk said. “I’m ready to go. Everybody’s excited that we’re in this position right now.”

    Florida is in this position rather than facing elimination in Game 4 on Saturday thanks in large part to Tkachuk, who also set up Brandon Montour‘s goal that opened the scoring less than five minutes in.

    Not long after, Tkachuk stumbled getting up after the hit from Kolesar and skated to the bench. He took a shift on Florida’s power play before going down the tunnel at the demand of concussion spotters mandated by NHL protocol.

    At that point, there was zero clarity, even on the Florida bench.

    “You’re not informed at all: It’s a complete shutdown,” coach Paul Maurice said. “You are completely in the dark on those. You don’t know when the player’s coming back. There’s not an update.”

    Players insist they were not worried. Montour called it a no-brainer.

    “He’s going to come back no matter what,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “He’s really tough guy, and he’s going to battle through everything.”

    Tkachuk rejoined his teammates on the bench a few minutes into the second. When he stepped back onto the ice for his first shift since leaving, fans cheered and chanted, “Chucky! Chucky!”

    The crowd was even louder and threw rats when Tkachuk scored his biggest goal of many during this run to tie it. He didn’t get an assist on Verhaeghe’s goal but made it happen with a tape-to-tape pass in the neutral zone and was in front of Adin Hill when it happened.

    Asked if he was happy Tkachuk returned, Maurice joked that it was after midnight.

    “It was fine,” he quipped.

    Panthers rally, top Golden Knights 3-2 in OT of Game 3 of Stanley Cup final

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — Carter Verhaeghe scored 4:27 into overtime and the Florida Panthers pulled off some more postseason dramatics to beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night.

    Matthew Tkachuk tied it with 2:13 left in the third period for the Panthers, who got the franchise’s first title-series game win in seven tries. Florida had to fend off a power play to start overtime, and Verhaeghe got the winner from the slot to get the Panthers within 2-1 in the series.

    Game 4 is Saturday night.

    Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots for Florida. Adin Hill made 20 saves for Vegas, but got beat on the only shot that came his way in overtime.

    Brandon Montour also scored for Florida, which pulled Bobrovsky down 2-1 late in the third for the extra attacker and Tkachuk — who left for parts of the first and second periods after taking a big hit — made that move pay off when he tied the game.

    His goal breathed life into a very nervous building. But the Panthers were furious — and replays showed they had a case — when Gustav Forsling was sent to the box with 11.2 seconds remaining for tripping. Florida survived that scare, and a few minutes later, had life in the series again.

    The odds are still long, but the Panthers at least have a bit more statistical hope now. Of the previous 55 teams to trail 2-1 at this point of the Stanley Cup Final, 11 have actually rallied to hoist the trophy.

    It’s improbable, sure. So are the Panthers, who were the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, were down 3-1 to Boston in Round 1, were 133 seconds away from trailing this series 3-0 — and now have tons of reasons for optimism.

    Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone each had power-play goals for Vegas.

    Marchessault’s goal was his 13th in his last 13 playoff games, his fourth of this series and his third with the man advantage.

    As if all that wasn’t enough, there was a little history in there as well. Vegas joined the 1980 New York Islanders as the only team with at least two power-play goals in three consecutive games in the Cup final. And Marchessault became the third player in the last 35 years to score in each of the first three games of a title series — joining Steve Yzerman in 1997 with Detroit and Jake Guentzel with Pittsburgh in 2017.

    But it wasn’t enough to give Vegas a 3-0 lead in the series.


    Before Thursday, Florida’s last home game in the title series was June 10, 1996, when Uwe Krupp scored in the third overtime for a 1-0 win as Colorado finished off a four-game sweep of the Panthers for the Cup. … Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was in the crowd, as was NBA great Charles Barkley, and former Dolphins star Dan Marino was the celebrity drummer to welcome the Panthers onto the ice.

    Blackhawks, Athanasiou agree to 2-year, $8.5 million contract

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    CHICAGO — The rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks locked in one of their top scorers, agreeing to a two-year, $8.5 million contract with forward Andreas Athanasiou on Thursday.

    The 28-year-old Athanasiou tied for the team lead with 20 goals and ranked third with 40 points in his first season with Chicago. He matched career highs with four game-winning goals and three power-play goals.

    The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Athanasiou has 125 goals and 111 assists in 459 games with the Detroit Red Wings (2015-20), Edmonton Oilers (2020), Los Angeles Kings (2020-22) and Blackhawks.

    Chicago went 26-49-7 and finished last in the Central Division. The Blackhawks dealt Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers prior to the trade deadline and announced in April they would not re-sign Jonathan Toews, parting with two players who led them to Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015.