NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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1. Impact of Steven Stamkos
The absence of one of a team's top forwards can cost it 3.07 points in the standings, according to a study by Gabriel Desjardins. Those points would have made a big difference last season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point playing 65 games without Stamkos, who tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee Nov. 15.
According to catch-all statistics like Tom Awad's Goals Versus Threshold (GVT), Stamkos' importance to the Lightning is even greater than 3.07 points. Stamkos is estimated to have improved Tampa Bay's goal differential by 15.4 in 2015-16, when he played 77 games.
Because every improvement of three goals in a team's goal differential adds one point in the standings, having Stamkos healthy this season could boost the Lightning in the standings by 5.1 points, and put them back in the race for first place in the Atlantic Division. (His estimated plus-17.0 impact on Tampa Bay's goal differential in 82 games in 2014-15 equates to 5.7 standings points.)
Video: 31 in 31: Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 season preview
2. Getting better on special teams
Tampa Bay improved from being among the least effective on special teams in terms of shot-based metrics to being about the NHL average the past three seasons.
In 2014-15, the Lightning averaged 73.24 shot attempts per 60 minutes on the power play (last in the NHL) and allowed 105.07 per 60 minutes while shorthanded (27th), according to Natural Stat Trick.
They improved those numbers slightly to 84.82 on the power play (26th) and 100.1 while shorthanded (24th) in 2015-16 before averaging 96.84 with the man-advantage (16th) and 98.82 on the penalty kill (15th) last season.
There remains room for improvement, but the underlying numbers make it clear that Tampa Bay is trending in the right direction.
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3. Andrei Vasilevskiy best against close shots
Vasilevskiy's .915 save percentage in his NHL career was 29th among the 61 goalies who played at least 50 games in the League during the same three-season span.
But when considering only shots taken from within hockey's home plate area -- which runs from each goal post to the faceoff dot on the same side to the top of each circle and across -- Vasilevskiy had a League-leading .877 save percentage.
Vasilevskiy also led the NHL with a .960 save percentage when entering a game in relief of the starting goalie, among the 51 goalies to make at least five relief appearances the past three seasons.
Video: TBL@MTL: Vasilevskiy stretches to make a great save