When I asked what we can expect the Leafs to score in the playoffs, the natural follow-up question is what about Tampa?
I applied the same method to the Lightning, with a lot less quality of understanding going into the TOI guessing. I'm hoping most of my mistakes there are with the depth, and this is decently accurate of the average amount Tampa's forwards should score in a playoff series.
One thing about Tampa, though, is that both Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev score more goals than Leafs defenders do. Here's the calculation for the forwards:
|Player||Est. TOI/GP||Est. G per GP||7 Games||14 Games||21 Games|
Tampa plays their top line right on an average of 20 minutes per game, and that makes me think they're using the NHL's app which given running TOI as a game goes on. It might just be how it shakes out, but it seems pretty intentional to me. (I used HockeyViz for the average TOI figures, and they were all right on 20).
If that looks very similar to the Leafs, well, it is. And through no machinations on my end, the total for seven games came out to 22 for Tampa and 23 for the Leafs. This will not come as a shock to you if you recall the goal numbers from last year's playoff series. A close read of the estimated goals per game for each team, however, will show you that the Leafs can lean on their top six to greater effect than Tampa can. If the bench gets short – the advantage goes to the Leafs forwards.
The oft-heard song about Tampa's middle class being better than the Leafs is true in a way. They are a little bit better, but this is the truth about hockey: the difference between one third liner and another slightly better is tiny. The difference between very good and elite top-six forwards is the difference between a good team and a contender.
The Leafs and the Lightning, unsurprisingly, are about dead even in overall forward scoring ability. But there's a lot more to a playoff series that which guy scores how many goals. Which is why they play the games and we watch them.