An Analytics-Based Comparison Of The Bruins And Lightning Series

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Brian Boll | Follow Me On Twitter @HockeyOgie

As we await the start of the second-round matchup of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning this Sunday, many experts are predicting a close matchup between the two teams. A mix of the traditional “eye-test” and the use of analytics play an essential role in developing a comprehensive pre scouting package, influencing a coach’s game plan by identifying strengths, weaknesses, and habits of the opponent. Evaluations are being made on both sides using traditional “eye-test” observations, but the numbers don’t lie. Here we will examine some team-performance based metrics to show both similarities and differences between the Bruins and the Lightning so far in the playoffs.

With several offensive weapons found on both teams in this series, puck possession is critical, and the related possession metrics could determine to be huge difference makers in a close series. Boston has shown success in their faceoff percentage with a 54.5% win rate, while Tampa Bay has underachieved at a 46.8% win rate. The Lightning have maintained puck possession more than the Bruins up to this point, with a giveaway per 60-Minutes rate of 7.96 compared to the Bruins rate of 11.73. Takeaways per 60-minutes are close with Tampa Bay holding a slight advantage at 5.99 over Boston’s 5.75.

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As teams look to adjust a new opponent, both have succeeded in getting more shots to the opponent’s net than the number of shots allowed on their own net. Boston has averaged 33.4 shots on goal and allowed an average of 27.0 shots against, with Tampa Bay averaging 36.6 shots for and 32.8 against so far in the playoffs. This has translated to the Bruins scoring an average of 2.38 goals per game and allowing an average of 2.5 goals against per game, with Tampa Bay’s average of goals-for and goals-against equal at 2.5 for and against per game.

While both teams have proven to be able to come-back from giving up the first goal of the game with a winning percentage of .500. When trailing first, the Lightning have the advantage when scoring the first goal of the game at a .833 winning percentage compared to the Bruins .500 winning percentage when scoring the first goal of the game.

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So far, in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, both the Bruins and Lightning have earned above-average Corsi and Fenwick percentages. At 5-on-5, the Bruins have a 52.4% Corsi percentage, while the Lightning boasts a remarkable 58.6% Corsi percentage thus far. Boston’s Fenwick Percentage also comes in above average at 52.6%, with Tampa Bay too extraordinarily strong at 56.9%.  What does this mean? These stats show that both teams shoot on the opponent’s net more than they allow shots on their own net, including both the blocked shot (Corsi) and the unblocked shot (Fenwick) rates.

As we have seen recently in the playoffs, special teams can determine the success or failure of a team in each game and sometimes in closing out a series. Boston’s powerplay is 5 for 28 at a 17.9% with Tampa Bay’s powerplay at 2 for 15 with a 13.3%.  On the other end, the Bruins have allowed 3 goals on 21 penalty kills at an 85.7% with the Lightning allowing 4 goals in 31 times shorthanded at an 87.1% With a combined 140 minutes of penalties in the last three times these teams met, these numbers could potentially become extremely important to each team’s success in this series.

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The Bruins are looking at a grueling second-round schedule of potentially playing 7 games in 11 days. Coach Bruce Cassidy said to NBC Sports Boston, “We have the same luxury upfront. But, if a guy gets a nagging injury and we start those back-to-backs, he doesn’t have a chance to recover. That can work against any team. Those are the intangibles of it and the unknowns a little bit. Our guys will be ready to play, and hopefully, we don’t run into those scenarios where guys do need extra time to recover.” Game 1 happens on Sunday, August 23, at 8:00 PM ET and is sure to be an exciting series.  Go, Bruins!

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