The Tampa Bay Lightning may have lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 1, but there is a line that the Lightning can look towards for a bounce-back. No, it is not the Brayden Point line. It’s the Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow line.
Yanni Gourde Among Unlikely Heroes
During the regular season, Gourde was one of the bigger disappointments. In the historic 2018-19 season, Gourde was a strong option for the Lightning, but he took a massive step back while players like Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn took big steps forward.
Because of his struggles, his role was diminished to the bottom-six. But that demotion may have fueled Gourde. Not to mention, Gourde has clicked with Lightning trade acquisitions in Coleman and Goodrow. Because of the hefty price paid by the Lightning for those two players at the deadline (two first-round picks and top prospect Nolan Foote), they were really banking on them to be factors. The motivated Gourde and his newfound chemistry with these new teammates paved the road towards playoff success.
Yanni Gourde Leading the Charge
While Point has been a massive factor for the Lightning in the playoffs, Gourde has led the charge in most advanced stats. He leads the entire Lightning roster in Corsi-for percentage, with a 65.7% mark. Gourde also led the team in Shots-for percentage with a 64.8% tally, with the Lightning out-shooting opponents 94 to 51 with Gourde on the ice. He also finds himself fourth on the team in goals-for percentage with a 66.7% score in that metric. His expected goals-for percentage blows his teammates out of the water, as he has a 71.1 xGF% in the playoffs. Finally, Gourde is first on the team in both scoring chances-for percentage and high-danger scoring chances-for percentage, with a 66.7 and 71.7 percent mark, respectively, in those categories.
Meanwhile, Coleman ranks seventh, fifth, fifth, fifth, fifth and second in the above categories, respectively. Goodrow, right behind, ranks 10th, eighth, third, 10th, 11th and ninth, respectively. It’s clear this line has been working wonders for the Lightning to this point in the playoffs, and they’ll need to continue. Their success can help Jon Cooper take the load off of Point, Nikita Kucherov and Anthony Cirelli.
What Went Wrong for the Gourde Line
For one, all three players posted pedestrian advanced stats versus the Bruins in Game 1. In fact, Gourde was the only one to post a Corsi-for percentage of over 40%. While the Lightning did out-shoot the Bruins with Gourde on the ice (6 to 5) both Goodrow and Coleman were out-shot when they were on the ice (6 to 7 and 5 to 7, respectively).
All three players were out-chanced in a big way by the Bruins when they were on the ice together, however, and that was ultimately the biggest issue with their performance last night.
For players who came into the series out-chancing their opponents 60 to 40 percent consistently game-in and game-out, this performance was frustrating.
Coming into this series, Coleman and Goodrow ate up a ton of minutes on the penalty-killing unit for Tampa. They also ranked highly in advanced categories while on the kill. Among 49 players with over 15 total minutes on the penalty kill in these playoffs, Coleman ranked first in Corsi against and second in expected goals against, scoring chances against and high-danger scoring chances against.
In Game 1 against Boston, Coleman played 1:52 short-handed, and Goodrow played 1:28 while short-handed. While that is a small sample of time, Coleman and Goodrow played well enough. In fact, they weren’t even on the ice for a single shot against. Now, they did give up a scoring chance despite that, but it was not a high-danger chance. Their success on the kill is crucial, as Boston is lethal with the man advantage. If they can continue to shut down the Bruins’ power play and the other units can do their job on the penalty kill, Coleman and Goodrow can turn the tide of this series.
It’s clear that the Lightning struggled, especially early, against Boston. However, the line that has offered the team steady success in a depth role had one of their worst games. It didn’t help that other guys in bigger roles struggled immensely, like Cirelli and Ryan McDonagh. But the Gourde line has been the most consistent for Tampa. It’s clear that when they struggle, the team could be in a bit of danger.
That said, Gourde will be looked at to fulfill the tall task of leading this line at even-strength. Meanwhile, Goodrow and Coleman need to fill in admirably alongside Gourde. They must also continue to play sound defensive hockey while on the kill. Obviously, these three guys won’t win the Lightning games, and they’ll still need Point, Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Cirelli. But still, the Gourde line has to return to the steadiness they bring in Game Two.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick
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