Lightning-Leafs 2023 series recap: Games 1-4 stats and observations

Well, what to make of the last two games, ahead of a pretty big tilt tonight?

First, some strangeness.

Since 2016, a team has come back home with a 3-1 series lead 22 times, counting the games earlier this week. The home team, despite being favoured AND up in the series, is just 8-14 in Game 5, including Carolina and Boston over the last two days.

Yet, of the 20 completed series, the team ahead has won the series 19 times, despite not always closing it out on home ice. This isn’t fatalism here, but merely reality, that the Lightning are going to send the Leafs everything they have.

I have some scattered observations up at The Athletic today, for those of you looking to read a few of those (I had a similar piece here after Games 1 and 2) but I think that all the smart analysis in the world, this time of year, can wind up looking stupid and outdated due to some pure sorcery.

The Lightning probably should have won one of the two overtime games, though Toronto had Tampa on their heels after the first commercial break in the third period of Game 4, and had them sitting back for nearly the entire third period of Game 3. I mentioned it in The Athletic, but when you’re a team that succeeds with a high pressure press as much as the Lightning do, you can’t flip the switch to prevent defence when with the lead, especially if Vasilevskiy is vulnerable to shots coming from the outside.

Given where the series is, I think Tampa will continue to press if they get a lead in Game 5. They can’t allow the Leafs easy zone entries or any space in the offensive zone–Toronto has picked Andrei Vasilevskiy apart with long shots and deflections over the last three games.

We’ll get into the microstats below:

Subscribe to get the stats

Subscribe for $5.99 a month to get access to Leafs analysis you can’t get anywhere else.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

%d bloggers like this: