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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Lightning Steal Defeat from Jaws of Victory

May 2, 2021, 1:50 AM ET [9 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Tampa Bay Lightning did almost everything they could possibly do to win today’s hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, but fell short in one key area: the score. Despite outplaying the Red Wings by an absurdly significant margin, the Lightning dropped a 1-0 shootout decision. It was one of those days. Here are Saturday’s thumbs:

Thumbs Down: Missed Opportunity
Any time you outshoot a team by a margin of 33-15, control the puck to the extent that the Lightning did, and receive basically a full two-minute five-on-three late in the third period, it’s tough to imagine losing the game 1-0 in a shootout. And, yet, that’s exactly what the Lightning managed to do in this game. There’s not much to criticize here; the Lightning did exactly what you’d want them to do against a team like the Red Wings, but couldn’t beat Thomas Greiss.

Thumbs Down: Game Management
If you watched more than a handful of minutes in this hockey game, you’ll know that the puck was basically always on a Lightning player’s stick; the Red Wings were chasing the whole afternoon – and much like dogs that chase cars, they weren’t having a lot of success. All of that is to say that it seems a little bit strange that the power play count was only 4-3 in favour of the Lightning. Game management is alive and well in today’s NHL.

Thumbs Down: The Definition of Goalie Interference
The Lightning had what would have been the game-winning goal disallowed after a successful goaltender interference challenge by the Red Wings. There was no doubt that Greiss was impeded in his attempt to make a save on Ryan McDonagh’s would-be goal, but video replay quite clearly showed that it was Detroit’s own Danny DeKeyser that forced Ondrej Palat into the crease. There have been plenty of occasions where the Lightning – and other teams – have been on the wrong side of goalie interference calls because their own defender pushed the opponent into the netminder. For whatever reason, that principle didn’t hold here. I don’t really have a problem with that call being made in a vacuum, but some consistency would be nice.

Thumbs Up: Curtis McElhinney’s Almost Perfect Day
With Andrei Vasilevskiy taking a rest day, Curtis McElhinney got the tap today. While he wasn’t tested very much at all, he still needed to make saves to get the Lightning to the shootout at 0-0. He made every possible save he could, which is all you can ask for in a game like this. By doing so, McElhinney notched a second straight value-add performance, which is really nice to see considering where his game was at earlier in the year.

Thumbs Up: Quantifying the Lightning’s Success
If you need further evidence to support the eye test conclusion that the Lightning bulldozed Detroit in this game, take a look at the underlying numbers for every member of this Lightning team. Of particular note, I draw your attention to the five-on-five expected goal share generated by the Johnson / Killorn / Cirelli line. Are you ready for it? 100.00% per Natural Stat Trick. Not 99.5%. Not even 99.9%. One-hundred percent. When I say that the Red Wings were doing nothing today, I mean it.

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The Lightning will get a chance to avenge this odd loss on Sunday afternoon.

As always, thanks for reading.
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