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Behind The Numbers

Low-scoring series likely for Red Wings, Lightning

Numbers suggest tight, defensive battle between Detroit, Tampa Bay

by Rob Vollman / Correspondent

The tightest defensive battle in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings.

Each team is strong defensively, has solid goaltending, and is less of an offensive threat than the average playoff team, according to the numbers.

Here are five interesting stats about this series:

1. Red Wings goal differential

Hockey is about scoring and preventing goals, so the most important statistic is that the Red Wings were outscored 219-209, giving them a goal differential of minus-10.

No other playoff team was outscored this season, and the Boston Bruins, who missed the playoffs, had a goal differential of plus-8.

In 2013-14, Detroit was the last team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season (221-217), and the Red Wings were eliminated by the Bruins in the first round in five games.

The Lightning outscored opponents 224-198 for a goal differential of plus-26.

Video: Cotsonika previews the Red Wings vs Lightning series

2. Lightning power play

Tampa Bay had 279 power-play opportunities, which ranked third in the NHL behind the Arizona Coyotes (300) and Philadelphia Flyers (280).

The extra power plays are generated by players including Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette, Ryan Callahan, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Marchessault, who drew a combined 97 penalties while taking 49 of their own. Johnson and Callahan are questionable for Game 1.

Even at full health, the Lightning may not be able to take full advantage of the extra opportunities because their power-play percentage of 15.8 was 28th in the NHL. There may not be much scoring when Tampa Bay has the man-advantage; Detroit scored two shorthanded goals, the fewest in the League.

3. Steven Stamkos

Further compounding Tampa Bay's difficulty in capitalizing on the power play is the absence of Steven Stamkos, who is recovering from surgery for a blood clot near his collarbone.

Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov combined for 23 of the Lightning's 44 power-play goals. In all situations, they were the two Lightning players to score more than 16 goals.

Video: Chatting with Steve Yzerman on his team's preparation

4. Low-scoring series

Detroit scored the fewest goals among playoff teams, and Henrik Zetterberg's 50 points were the second-fewest by a team scoring leader; Nazem Kadri led the Toronto Maple Leafs with 45 points.

Injuries to Stamkos, Johnson, and defenseman Anton Stralman will reduce scoring for the Lightning, tightening up what will already be a defensive series.

More importantly, each team is very strong defensively. Detroit allowed 3,174 shot attempts, the second-fewest in the NHL behind the Los Angeles Kings (3,159). Tampa Bay allowed 3,251 shot attempts, which ranked fourth.

5. Offensive-zone start percentage

A team's puck-possession rate is often estimated using its share of all shot attempts, but another method reveals that this will be a series between two of the teams that place the highest priority in controlling the play.

Detroit had an offensive-zone start percentage of 53.7, which was second in the NHL, and Tampa Bay's was 52.2, which was third. That suggests a mutual ability to drive the play into the opposing zone, and keep it there. The Los Angeles Kings led the NHL at 55.9.

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