2020 NHL Playoffs goals by game state and scorer: Stanley Cup Final

The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the 2020 Stanley Cup. The NHL was completely successful in its Return to Play plan, and managed to see a unique postseason played through in its entirety in just two bubbles.

While the end of September most years marks a time where everyone awaits the start of the regular season, this time around the NHL Playoffs had only just finished. How the next season will pan out remains to be known, but the NHL deserves praise for being able to stick to their plan of safely finishing to 2019-20 season.

Much credit goes to the employees working to make this happen. The playoffs wouldn’t have been possible without the work of healthcare workers, hotel and arena staff, and everyone else involved. The often thankless work by these workers led to the fact that hockey at its highest calibre was able to be played throughout the months of August and September.

With the playoffs coming to an end, we can close out the goals by game state and scorer data visualisation series, looking at the two teams that battled it out for the Cup.

Check out the rest of the series here:

2020 NHL Playoffs goals by game state and scorer: Qualifying Round

2020 NHL Playoffs goals by game state and scorer: First Round

2020 NHL Playoffs goals by game state and scorer: Second Round

2020 NHL Playoffs goals by game state and scorer: Conference Finals

How to read the charts

In the left column, goals are sorted by game state; in the right column goals are sorted by scorer. Both columns are sorted from the greatest to least number of occurrences. Game states are defined based on the number of skaters on ice, and the colours represent skaters relative to the opponent at the time of the goal.

The limitation of this data presentation is that it technically omits information on whether a goal was scored with the goalie pulled for the extra skater or on an empty net. However, in most scenarios the skaters on ice would either be 6v5 or 5v6, respectively.

While that does serve as a proxy, it doesn’t account for situations where a player in the penalty box might cause a goalie pulled situation to be represented as 5v5. Those goals would be missed in the current method of data presentation.

The visualisation may be reworked in the future to contain goaltender and penalty status, but in the mean time, the focus is only on the skaters on ice, which still serves useful information to see how a team gets their goals.

All data from Visualisations created with R and modified with Adobe Illustrator. The R “tidyverse” and “ggalluvial” packages were used to create the visualisations. Colour palette adapted from Carto.

Related: Visualising team scoring across the NHL at the time of the COVID-19 pause

Dallas Stars

The Stars had solid first-year returns in bringing in Joe Pavelski, who added four more goals to his playoff total in the Final to lead the team with 13. Two of his goals were scored on the Stars’ potent power play, while the other two came at 6v5 scenarios. He scored clutch goals to tie up a game for the Stars, a big reason they were often seen heading into overtime.

Corey Perry, also signed by the Stars for the year, also showed his worth by adding three goals to his playoff total after having a hard time finding the back of the net prior to the Final.

Denis Gurianov was held off the score sheet in the Final but still ended up second on the team in goals. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov were also held goalless in the six games against Tampa Bay.

The Stars’ top-two point scorers were Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg, both defencemen with 26 and 21 points, respectively. While they both had many more assists than goals, Heiskanen ended up fifth in team goals with six.

Dallas scored in all sorts of scenarios, including a couple shorthanded goals from Benn and Jamie Oleksiak, as well as converting on a two-man advantage courtesy of Pavelski.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Brayden Point was the leading goal scorer of the 2020 NHL Playoffs and was an extremely close runner-up to the Conn Smythe Trophy, losing to Hedman by merely a vote or two. His hockey sense and gargantuan on-ice effort was integral in the Lightning’s playoff success.

Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman joined Point as they round out the three Lightning players with at least 10 goals in the playoffs. Depth scoring was evident on this team too, as seven other players put up at least three goals. Among them, Nikita Kucherov, Yanni Gourde, and Tyler Johnson.

In arguably the most welcomed surprise of the NHL Playoffs, Lighting captain Steven Stamkos made his in-game return in Game Three, totalling just 2:47 of ice-time. Oh, and he also scored a goal.

Stamkos’ health rightfully took the top priority and he was ruled out of the remainder of the playoffs. His short appearance provided a huge boost for the Lightning and scoring a highlight-reel goal on his first and only shot of the playoffs was the cherry on top.

Tampa Bay went through the entirety of the playoffs scoring just one goal at 5v6, courtesy of Pat Maroon in Game Four versus the New York Islanders. Every other goal was scored at either even-strength, on the power play, or with their goalie pulled.

Their penalty kill produced zero goals, but among teams that had deep runs, they has the best penalty killing percentage, coming in at 86.1%. Only a handful of teams that were bounced early in the playoffs either in the qualifiers or the first round had better percentages.

Stanley Cup Final overview

Comparing these two teams, the Stars and Lightning scored an identical 77 goals throughout the playoffs. Tampa Bay tallied more even-strength goals and Dallas ended up with more power play goals, though both teams ended up with extremely even 22.7% and 22.4% power play efficiencies, the Lighting holding the small edge over the Stars.

Dallas had 17 unique goal scorers to Tampa Bay’s 16. With similar scoring profiles, these two teams were well matched, but when it came down to it the final line, the Lighting were able to strike more effectively.

Credit to Dallas though, they defied a lot of odds and expectations throughout the playoffs. They rallied behind Anton Khudobin‘s other-worldly performance and had huge boosts from players on their entry-level contracts, like Heiskanen, Gurianov, and Joel Kiviranta.

The Lightning have been built to be winners, and almost every aspect of their roster reflects that. Winning what might have been the tightest, least predictable Stanley Cup in recent memory was well-deserved.

That’s a wrap! The 2020 NHL Playoffs have finally come to an end and so has the Goals by Game State and Scorer series. Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning on their Stanley Cup.

Are there any other teams (regular season or playoffs from previous years) you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @mrbilltran.

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