Round One Series Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs Versus Washington Capitals

Maple Leafs Versus Capitals graphic

All of the playoff matchups are set for the 2017 NHL Playoffs.  The Washington Capitals will begin their quest for the Stanley Cup as they face the quick-rising Toronto Maple Leafs in Round One.


The Maple Leafs are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2013.  It is just the 2nd time the Leafs have visited the playoffs since the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

The Leafs are a young and inexperienced team.  Led by 40-goal scoring rookie sensation Auston Matthews, this team does have a lot of speed and skill in their lineup.  Matthews and teammates Mitchell Marner and William Nylander, have given the Leafs fans hope for the future.

Surrounding the young Leafs is a quality supporting cast of players.  Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk have had good seasons with the Leafs in 2016-17.  Kadri recorded 32 goals, while van Riemsdyk recorded 62 points.

Mike Babcock leads the Leafs behind the bench.  Babcock has won a Stanley Cup and has won multiple Gold Medals with Team Canada in the Olympics.

Entering the playoffs, the Leafs appear to be a little banged up.  Goaltender Frederik Andersen was injured last Saturday night after he took a hit from Pittsburgh Penguins forward Tom Sestito.  If he is unable to start in the playoffs, 33-year old Curtis McElhinney will take over the netminding duties.

On the blueline, Roman Polak and Nikita Zaitsev were injured in Sunday night’s regular season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Both players seem to have only minor injuries, and both should be able to return in the playoffs.


During the regular season, the Maple Leafs powerplay was very good.  The Leafs were 23.8% effective, which was ranked 2nd best in the NHL.  The Leafs penalty kill was respectable too.  It was 82.5% effective, which was ranked 10th best in the NHL.


The Leafs fired lots of shots in the regular season.  They averaged 31.9 shots per game, which was ranked 4th most in the NHL.  The Leafs surrendered 32.6 shots per game, which was 3rd most in the NHL.


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The Presidents’ Trophy winners are trying to win Washington D.C.’s first Stanley Cup.  The Capitals are back in the playoffs for their 3rd straight season, and 8th time in their last 10 seasons.

Nicklas Backstrom led the way for the Capitals points race in 2016-17.  The 29-year old Swede recorded 23 goals and 86 points.  Backstrom’s 86 points is the most he has scored in a season since the 2009-10 campaign when he recorded 101 points.

Braden Holtby has had another Vezina Trophy caliber season for the Capitals.  In 63 starts, Holtby recorded 42 wins and had a 2.07 goals against average and .925 save percentage.  He has recorded 3 straight seasons of 40+ wins.

T.J. Oshie scored the most goals in a season in his pro career.  His team-leading 33 goals is the same number of goals Alex Ovechkin scored this season.

Entering the playoffs, John Carlson missed the last 4 games of the season with a lower-body injury.  Barry Trotz insists that it is nothing serious, and Carlson should be ready to go for the start of the playoffs.  Brett Connolly missed the last 2 games with an illness, but he should be ready to go at the start of the playoffs.


The Capitals powerplay was very good during the regular season.  The Capitals were 23.1% effective, which was ranked 3rd best in the NHL.  The Capitals penalty kill was also good.  The penalty kill was 83.8% effective, which was ranked 7th best in the NHL.


The Capitals were an average team at firing shots at the opposition’s net.  The Capitals averaged 30.4 shots per game, which was ranked 13th most in the NHL.  The Capitals did not surrender a lot of shots per game.  The Capitals surrendered an average of 27.8 shots per game, which is 4th fewest in the NHL.


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-This will be the first meeting between the Maple Leafs and Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
-The Capitals went 2-1 against the Leafs in 2016-17.  They outscored the Leafs 12-10 in the season series.
-The Capitals and Maple Leafs last met on April 4 in Toronto.  The Capitals won that game 4-1.
-The Maple Leafs player with the most amount of playoff experience is Brian Boyle.  Boyle has played in 100 career playoff games.


By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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3 Responses to Round One Series Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs Versus Washington Capitals

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