Daily Matchup

April 4 – Day 172 – Stamkos-less Lightning

Chicago scored for the first half hour, and Boston tried to level in their half, but to no avail, falling 6-4 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

For our NFL fans, the scoring of this contest reminded me of the SeahawksPanthers NFC Divisional game I attended this last postseason, as Chicago scored six goals before ceding to Boston the remainder of the time.  The Hawks‘ first goal was at the 13:14 mark of the first period, an Artem Anisimov power play wrister, assisted by Second Star of the Game Artemi Panarin and Brent Seabrook (his 31st helper of the season).  The only other goal of the frame was First Star Patrick Kane’s unassisted backhander, his 41st of the season.  More from him after the intermission.

Like, immediately after, as he scored his second of three only 54 seconds after returning to the ice (his 42nd tally of the season).  This one was assisted by Anisimov and Panarin.  Jonathan Toews got in on the action 1:06 later with his 26th tally of the seaosn, assisted by Marian Hossa and Andrew Ladd.  Panarin’s third point was a game-winning slap shot at the 5:17 mark, assisted by Kane (his 57th helper of the seaosn) and Anisimov.  Chicago‘s final goal of the day completed Kane’s hat trick, assisted by Panarin (his 44th helper of the season) and Seabrook at the 14:16 mark.  After that, it was all Bruins, starting with David Pastrnak’s wrister at the 19:44 mark, assisted by David Krejci (his 44th helper of the season) and Zdeno Chara.  Eleven seconds later, and with only five ticks remaining in the second period, Third Star Patrice Bergeron set the score at 6-2 with his 31st tally of the season, assisted by Adam McQuaid and Brad Marchand.

Goal #3 for the Bruins found the back of the net at the 2:39 mark of the third, courtesy of a Bergeron wrister assisted by Loui Eriksson and Torey Krug.  The final goal was struck nine seconds before the 10 minute mark from Brad Marchand, assisted by Krug (his 38th helper of the season) and and Bergeron.  Chicago‘s defense and goal-tending finally started taking the comeback seriously, and didn’t let Boston score again to ensure the 6-4 victory.

Scott Darling earns the win after saving 42 of 46 shots faced (91.3%), while Jonas Gustavsson takes the loss, saving 10 of 12 (83.3%).  He replaced starter Tuukka Rask following Toews’ goal, saving 18 of 22 (81.8%).

Chicago‘s win snaps the two game winning streaks by road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series, setting the season record at 79-45-18, leaning towards the home sides by 37 points.

We’ve got our second straight day of five games today, starting with two at 7 p.m. eastern (Tampa Bay at the New York Islanders [NHLN/TVAS] and the New York Rangers at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Florida at Toronto.  8 p.m. eastern marks the puck drop of Arizona at St. Louis, and 10 p.m. eastern brings with it our nightcap, Los Angeles at Vancouver.

We’ve got a few divisional rivalries being played this evening (New York at Columbus, Florida at Toronto and Los Angeles at Vancouver), but only Tampa Bay at New York is between two playoff qualifiers.  In efforts to catch the most exciting game of the night, let’s head to Brooklyn!

Unknown-1New York Islanders Logo





Tonight’s game will be Tampa Bay‘s 18th appearance in the DtFR Game of the Day series, where they own a 11-4-2 record.  Under our watchful eye, they last played to a 5-2 home loss to the rival Panthers on March 26.  New York has made nine appearances in the series and own a 2-6-1 record.  They last appeared in their five-goal shutout home loss to the Penguins on Saturday.

The 45-28-5 Tampa Bay Lightning are currently the second best team in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.  They’ve gotten to that position by playing the fourth best defense in the league, paired with the 12th best offense, but that could all be going up in smoke with Steven Stamkos’ blood clot putting him on injured reserve.

Lucky for them, they still have the backbone of their team, their defense.  Led by Victory Hedman’s 131 blocks, the Lightning have allowed only 2236 shots to reach 34-20-4 Ben Bishop and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.5% for only 186 goals against, the fourth fewest in the NHL.  That success continues on the penalty kill, where the Bolts have killed 84.3% of their infractions, allowing only 38 power play goals, the fifth best rate in the league.  Further improving on those efforts, Tampa has also scored seven shorthanded goals, one more than the league average.

Before his season ended prematurely, the offense centered around Stamkos.  His 216 shots has led the Bolts to firing the puck 2236 times, with a solid 9.4% of those finding the back of the net for 217 goals (again, led by Stamkos’ 36 goals, six more than Nikita Kucherov), the 12th most in the league.  He’ll be missed on the power play as well, as his 14 power play goals has led Tampa to 43 extra man goals (Kucherov has the second most at nine) with their 16.29% success rate that already ranked sixth worst in the league before his exit.

Tampa Bay‘s last game was a 3-1 victory over the visiting Devils on Saturday.  Two more points in the standings between now and this Saturday will clinch them a playoff spot, and I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that they’d like to get both tonight.  Should they do that and Florida lose in Toronto, they will move into first in the Atlantic Division.

The 42-26-9 New York Islanders currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, qualifying them for the first wildcard spot.  To get into that spot, they’ve played the 11th best defense in the league, paired with the 13th best offense.  A statistical analysis of the Isles‘ game can be found within Saturday’s article.

New York hasn’t played since their embarrassing 5-0 loss on home ice to the Penguins on Saturday, but a win tonight could pull them into a tie with the Rangers for third in the division should the Blueshirts fall in Columbus this evening.

Tonight’s game will be the series deciding game, as both teams split the two meetings at Amalie Arena earlier this year.  The last time they met was March 25, when Tampa won 7-4.

Some players to keep an eye on include New York‘s Thomas Greiss (.924 save percentage [tied for fifth best in the league]) or Jaroslav Halak (2.3 GAA [10th best in the league]) & Tampa Bay‘s Bishop (two GAA [leads the league], .929 save percentage [second best in the league], six shutouts [tied for second most in the league] and 34 wins [sixth most in the league]).

This one is a tough one to predict since Stamkos is out.  Although Tampa‘s defense is still intact and should easily handle New York‘s scoring attempts, there’s no telling what the Bolts will do on the other end.  I’m inclined to pick the Islanders in a close one simply because they’re playing at home.

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