The 2019-20 Tampa Bay Lightning played both the most and least efficient games in the past five postseasons

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had some uniquely noteworthy games already so far in the 2020 playoffs. They opened their postseason campaign with a quintuple overtime game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Most recently, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders resulted in a lopsided win for the Lightning.

These two games actually represent two results that haven’t occurred in at least the five postseasons. Let’s break down what actually happened by plotting primary game metrics from every playoff performance by every team between 2015-16 up through to games played on September 7, 2020 in the 2020 Playoffs.

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The Visualisation

To see the results that really highlight these mind-boggling Lightning performances, I plotted Corsi for on the x-axis, and the difference between Fenwick for and shots for on the y-axis. The markers are coloured based on the number of goals scored.

Over the past five years, plenty of results have occurred, but the Lightning placed two more markers that are just drastically different compared to the rest.

Lightning versus Blue Jackets

In Game 1 of the First Round, the Lightning and Blue Jackets had a marathon of a game that featured over two and a half hours of game time. With seven and a half periods of hockey played, the Lightning were relentless at every stage in the game.

By the time Brayden Point scored the quintuple overtime game-winning goal, the Lightning tallied a whopping 188 corsi for. Tampa Bay’s scoring was the furthest thing from being efficient. Based on the Fenwick-Shot differential, they ended up with 38 extra unblocked shots that ended up missing the net.

To sum up the game, the Lightning posted the most shot attempts, the biggest difference between shots made versus shots missed, and of course due to this being a low-scoring multi-overtime game, they only had three goals to show for it.

By most accounts, this game was the least efficient game by any team in terms of scoring, at least in the past five postseasons.

Lightning versus Islanders

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the Lightning easily handled the Islanders. Every bounce seemingly went Tampa Bay’s way, and they ended up running up the score. Scoring eight goals in a playoff game is a rare sight, but the Lightning did it with just 34 shots, good enough for a team shooting percentage of 23.5%.

While they were led by Point and Nikita Kucherov on the scoresheet, the Lightning also accomplished a unique feat during the game:

It’s astonishing to think that such a metric would be possible in a game, let alone in the playoffs, but the Lightning literally played nearly the entire game without missing a shot. The Islanders were only credited with 12 blocks in the game. Every other Lightning shot other than Cedric Paquette‘s last minute attempt was on net.

Pardon the sound of the broken record here, but by most accounts, this game was the most efficient game by any team in terms of scoring, at least in the past five postseasons.

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