Advertisement

Behind the numbers: Lightning allowing a lot of goals through 3 games

With new faces trying to fit into new roles, there has been a gaudy number of shots on goal allowed so far.
 
Lightning goaltender Matt Tomkins unsuccessfully reaches to block a shot from Senators right wing Vladimir Tarasenko as he scores during the first period Sunday in Ontario.
Lightning goaltender Matt Tomkins unsuccessfully reaches to block a shot from Senators right wing Vladimir Tarasenko as he scores during the first period Sunday in Ontario. [ ADRIAN WYLD | AP ]
Published Oct. 16, 2023|Updated Oct. 16, 2023

BUFFALO — Three games don’t make a season, and the Lightning’s back-to-back losses in Detroit and Ottawa shouldn’t prompt pressing the panic button.

But we have seen the Lightning form some unsettling habits, especially with turnover-riddled play in their own end, early on. It’s a little surprising because Tampa Bay had a strong postseason and coach Jon Cooper was pleased with the progress the team made throughout training camp.

Keep in mind, the Lighting also opened last season 1-3-0, but were able to right the ship. The difference is that they allowed more than three goals just once in that stretch. Going into Tuesday’s final contest of this three-game road trip, they have allowed an average of 4.67 goals per game.

Yes, the Lightning don’t have Andrei Vasilevskiy, and his replacements in goal — Jonas Johansson and Matt Tomkins — have very little NHL experience. But it’s clear the scoring the Lightning have allowed has less to two with the netminders and more about how the team is playing in front of them.

To add to the problems, the Lightning were without captain Steven Stamkos, who is tied for the team led in goals (2) and second in points (4), on Sunday due to a lower-body injury.

Here are four numbers that tell a lot about the first three games of the season:

0

5-on-5 shots on goal by Brayden Point in losses to Detroit and Ottawa

Brayden Point has struggled to get good looks on goal during this road trip.
Brayden Point has struggled to get good looks on goal during this road trip. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Coming off a career-best 51-goal season, Point started this season strong with a three-assist night in the opener last Tuesday against Nashville, but has since struggled to create offense. He was held without a shot on goal in Saturday’s loss to the Red Wings, and his only shot on goal in Sunday’s game in Ottawa came in 4-on-4 play with 7:33 left in the first period.

When your top goal scorer goes 47 minutes without a shot on goal — and you’re not getting the production elsewhere from your stars like Tampa Bay did in Detroit with three-point nights from Stamkos and Victor Hedman — it makes it tough to win a game. Point has struggled to create space for himself, and his teammates are having a hard time helping him find open ice.

5

High-danger scoring chances for Anthony Cirelli in 5-on-5, most on the team

Red Wings defenseman Justin Holl (3) checks Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) during the third period Saturday in Detroit.
Red Wings defenseman Justin Holl (3) checks Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) during the third period Saturday in Detroit. [ CARLOS OSORIO | AP ]

Cirelli arguably has been the Lightning’s best all-around player through the first three games. He’s been one of the few players who has been responsible in his own end, and he’s also creating offensive opportunities. He scored his first goal of the year one minute into the second period Sunday, and he’s consistently been getting good looks around the net.

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

To get that kind of production is a good thing for Cirelli, who has been a defense-first kind of player in his second-line center role. The play of his line Sunday — a newly-formed trio of Tanner Jeannot, Cirelli and Mikey Eyssimont — was one of the few bright spots in Ottawa, as they scored both Tampa Bay goals, recorded 17 of the Lightning’s 41 5-on-5 shot attempts and created seven of their 19 5-on-5 scoring chances.

Minus-5

Conor Sheary’s plus/minus on the season

Lightning left wing Conor Sheary is having a slow start to the regular season after shining during training camp.
Lightning left wing Conor Sheary is having a slow start to the regular season after shining during training camp. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Sheary came to the Lightning in the offseason on a three-year deal with the reputation of being a versatile player who can play anywhere along the top three lines. The Lightning are still trying to find where he’s best utilized. Sheary has struggled to find his footing after a strong preseason, and his minus-5 is the worst plus/minus among all Lightning forwards. It’s an unusual start because Sheary was a plus-9 last season playing with the Capitals.

Sheary opened Saturday’s game on the top scoring line, but that didn’t last long as Jon Cooper reunited Stamkos with the top line. Sheary was a minus-2 in Sunday’s loss, playing on the third line centered by Nick Paul.

111

Shots on goal allowed through three games, most in the NHL

Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk fires the puck wide of the net as Lightning goaltender Matt Tomkins reacts during the second period Sunday.
Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk fires the puck wide of the net as Lightning goaltender Matt Tomkins reacts during the second period Sunday. [ ADRIAN WYLD | AP ]

Shot volume can be deceiving because not all shots on goal are created equal. But the Lightning have allowed 37 shots a game, tied for third most in the league. Maybe more telling is that they have allowed 39 high-danger scoring chances. (Only Chicago (41) and Nashville (40) have allowed more.)

Combine that with the fact that the Lightning have allowed 28 more shots on goal than they have produced (83) and it says that not only are they playing way too much time in their own zone — which has a negative impact on your offensive production because you’re pinned back for too long — but you’re also allowing far too many chances that are open and in front of the net.

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.