By the Numbers: Devils-Bolts Game 1

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New Jersey Devils, 5-2, in Game 1 of their first-round series Thursday.

It was Tampa’s fourth line that excelled in this contest, fueled by a three-point night (1 goal, 2 assists) from Ondrej Palat. The Bolts’ top line did manage to score late in the game after Nikita Kucherov tallied an empty-net goal with an assist from Steven Stamkos.

Here are six numbers to look at from Devils-Lightning Game 1:


This is actually two numbers, but it will illustrate my point: it’s the percentage of total shot attempts (5-on-5) when Steven Stamkos is on the ice, with and without Sami Vatanen against him.

When Vatanen/Stamkos are both on the ice? Stamkos sits at 30%.

When Stamkos is on the ice and Vatanen is not? That number rockets to 70%.

What does that mean? Vatanen did a terrific job of containing Stamkos in Game 1. The pairing of Andy Greene and Vatanen have been called upon to shut down top lines for most of the second half of the season for the Devils and have produced good results. This is one big reason why Stamkos and Kucherov were held off the scoresheet for most of the game. Vatanen and Stamkos were on the ice together for just over 8 minutes in Game 1. You have to wonder if that number will jump up in Games 2, 3 and 4.


That’s how many chances the Devils had in the third period at even strength from high-danger scoring areas. Even though the Devils made it a one-goal contest in the third period, Tampa dominated puck possession, peppering 22 shot attempts compared to New Jersey’s 9. Tampa also led in scoring chances, holding a 12-2 advantage.


Taylor Hall recorded a point on both Devils goals and got the New Jersey on the board in the second period of Game 1.

He then executed a nifty pull-up pass shot on Travis Zajac‘s goal to bring the Devils within one.

Hall and company saw the effective Palat line for over 11 minutes in the game and the presumed Hart Trophy candidate performed well against former Ranger Ryan McDonagh. The Tampa D-man saw the most time on the ice (9:46 while 5-on-5) against Hall. When both were on the ice, Hall’s group saw 7 scoring chances in the game vs. 4 against.

Hall also led the way among all forwards with overall time on ice (20:00).


How many minutes Victor Hedman played in the game, leading all skaters (Vatanen led the way for the Devils with 26:32). Hedman saw the most of Blake Coleman, Travis Zajac and Stefan Noesen on the ice. All three Devils forwards saw shot attempt percentages below 50% when Hedman was on the ice and over 50% when Hedman was off the ice.


The number of shots faced by Keith Kinkaid in Game 1. The Devils’ goalie made 27 saves in the losing effort. Since Feb. 15, Kinkaid posted higher than league average save percentage numbers in 15 games, an impressive feat. The Lightning led in shot attempts overall and in high danger areas on the ice in Game 1.


The number days of playoff experience that resides on the resumes of Vatanen, Brian Boyle, Patrick Maroon, Drew Stafford, Michael Grabner and Marcus Johansson (despite currently being out of the lineup). That’s over 45 seven-game series. The veterans listed were all acquired in the last year by general manager Ray Shero.

So, despite the Devils falling in Game 1 and the team having mostly a youthful core, the postseason stripes certainly exist in the locker room. If you are the type to put a lot of stock into this number, that’s certainly a positive (I personally do).

Bonus number: 100

As in, the percentage I really hope those plastic clappers in the crowd are gone by Game 2. I won’t hold my breath!

Game 2 is at 3 p.m. on Saturday on NBC/CNBC. Game 3 on Monday will be back on MSG, MSG+ and MSG Go.

[Watch Devils-Lightning Game 3 Monday on MSG, MSG+ & MSG GO]