Game 27 Statcap: Blue Jackets 1, Lightning 0

Wow, what a snooze.

The Tuesday night tilt between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning was everything you don’t want out of a hockey game. It was largely a slow, sloppy and ugly game. If there’s an argument against an 82-game season that states so many games waters down the quality of the product, this match-up was Exhibit A.

The Lightning played a very good first period and seemed to be off to a good start, controlling play early and finishing the first period ahead in shots and shot attempts. They were unable so solve Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, but they turned in a strong opening frame on the road and seemed to be on their way to a good game.

That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Before the mid-way point of the second period, the Jackets had taken over the game, routinely hemming the Bolts into their own zone, breaking up exit passes and forcing turnovers all over the ice. The Bolts looked undisciplined and unprepared, seemingly out of nowhere after such a good start to the game. It’s as if a different team came out onto the ice for the middle frame, and it didn’t take the Jackets too long to capitalize, as Nick Foligno put one behind Ben Bishop on a slick between-the-legs shot after a couple of horrid failed exits by the Lightning.

A quick look at the Fenwick timeline shows you what happened next — the Lightning simply imploded. From the Foligno goal on, it was all Columbus. They defended the neutral zone and their own zone well, they relegated the Lightning to a slow, easy-to-defend chip-and-chase game, and they took advantage of the injured blue line (both Radko Gudas and Eric Brewer sat this one out) by getting physical down low and sustaining offensive zone time via a fairly basic forechecking gameplan that the Lightning simply couldn’t best.

Neither team managed much in the way of meaningful puck possession — Fenwick For % actually ended up favoring the Lightning, who took 50.9% of all unblocked attempts — but that was an advantage built mostly in the first period and with a flurry at the end of the third with the Bolts pressuring for an equalizer. The most telling stat of the night was the total scoring chance count — the two teams combined managed just 14 total scoring chances, 7 apiece. While the lack of significant power play time is a contributing factor for both squads, a 60-minute hockey game even played entirely at full-strength should yield more than 7 scoring chances for each team.

The Lightning led in the first and third periods, with a 3-1 chance advantage, and the Jackets did almost all of their damage in the middle frame with a 5-1 lead there, including Foligno’s goal, the only marker of the contest. In terms of scoring chance differential, the Sami Salo/Victor Hedman pair was again solid for the bolts, going +4/-0 and +3/-0 respectively, which also means that when Sami Salo wasn’t on the ice — some 40 minutes of the game — the Lightning managed only 3 scoring chances for.

Salo and Hedman helped the Lightning control the puck whenever they were on the ice, and both finished the night above 65% in Fenwick For, which is outstanding. Unfortunately for the Lightning, the kids got shelled, as Nikita Kucherov, JT Brown, Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Andrej Sustr were all sub-50% Fenwick on the night.

Fenwick (Unblocked Shot Attempts) Timeline via Extra Skater

Following is the tracked scoring chance and zone event data:

Lightning Totals

Scoring Chances

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Zone Entries (Even-Strength)

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Zone Exits (Even-Strength)

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Game Logs

Scoring Chances

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Zone Entries (Even-Strength)

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Zone Exits (Even-Strength)

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We’d like to acknowledge utilizing data from the game report produced by Extra Skater and the Scoring Chances and Zone Entry Nexus applications created by Josh Weissbock.

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