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Tampa Bay Lightning Game One of their Playoff Series Standout Performances

A few Tampa Bay Lightning players stepped up yesterday in game one. However, the Lightning fell to the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-2 to start round one of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today, we will look at three standout players from the previous game for the Bolts. We have two popular selections and one surprise selection in our analysis.

Three Standout Performers for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game One

Anthony Cirelli (C)

To open our three stars of the night for Tampa Bay, Anthony Cirelli established his impactful two-way presence against the Panthers. The defensive-minded centre notched an assist on Brandon Hagel’s goal while dominating play on the ice. Cirelli was on the ice for 18 shot attempts and surrendered just eight. This math gives him a Corsi for a percentage (CF%) of 69.2. This percentage ranked first on the roster Sunday afternoon. Cirelli allowed just 0.09 expected goals in over 13 minutes of ice time at 5v5. The Panthers could not generate any quality chances offensively against Cirelli’s line. The Canadian centre led the Lightning in expected goals percentage on the afternoon (91.39 xGF%).

Brandon Hagel (LW)

Another piece of the dominant second line, Brandon Hagel, opened the scoring for the 2024 playoff run. Hagel’s energy and two-way presence were in full effect against Florida at even strength. The 25-year-old posted elite possession numbers alongside his linemates. Hagel also surrendered just 0.09 expected goals against in over 15 minutes of ice time 5v5. Furthermore, he controlled over 90% of the expected goal share on-ice (xGF%) 90.6. Hagel led the Bolts with 0.33 individual expected goals (ixG) on the afternoon, which means he got the highest-quality scoring chances. The Lightning’s second line was head and shoulders the best unit on the ice in game one, and we expect them to be vital if the Lightning pull off an upset in round one.

Matt Dumba (D)

While Matt Dumba did not have the most productive regular season stint in Tampa Bay, he made his physical presence known in game one. Dumba led the Lightning with ten hits on the afternoon, the only player on both sides to reach double digits. Furthermore, the veteran defender produced two scoring chances of his own offensively. Dumba was on the ice for eight scoring chances and allowed one against in 17 minutes of play. Moreover, he led all Lightning defenders in expected goal percentage in game one (78.56 xGF%). Dumba and his partner, Emil Martinsen Lilleberg, were the best defensive pairing for the Bolts on Sunday. However, the Lightning have recalled a right-handed defenceman from the American Hockey League on Monday morning. Let’s see what this call-up brings to the roster and talk about game two on Tuesday. 

Reflection and Game Two Preview

Outside the top six forwards, there wasn’t much to write home about in game one for the Lightning. The Panthers took advantage of their best asset over the Lightning. Florida has significantly more depth than Tampa Bay, and the possession numbers of the bottom six forwards on both sides showed the advantage. The Lightning must make adjustments heading into game two. The team recalled right-hander Maxwell Crozier from the Syracuse Crunch to help provide defensive stability. Crozier recorded two assists in 13 regular season games while averaging roughly 13 minutes of ice time a night. The Bolts must continue their disciplined play to keep a lethal Panthers power-play unit on the bench. Scoring the first goal against the Panthers will be vital in a game two victory. Overall, the Lightning played a decent first game, but they must improve their game to find themselves still dancing for Lord Stanley in round two.

Raw stats via NaturalStatTrick and MoneyPuck

Main photo: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports


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