Washington Capitals-Tampa Bay Lightning Numbers Preview


Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

One would think by the way Capitals fans celebrated defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals that the team actually won the Stanley Cup! Alas, they are only halfway to the main goal. And now an even better, scarier opponent awaits the Caps in Florida. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Luke Adomanis takes a look at the numbers before Game 1.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have lost a total of TWO games in the playoffs this spring. Once to the New Jersey Devils in the first round and once against the Boston Bruins in the second round. They actually lost the first game in the series against Boston, then  proceeded to win four straight, in very similar fashion to the Capitals’ comeback against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Let’s take a gander at both teams” underlying numbers from the playoffs so far. These are 5-on-5 adjusted numbers provided by Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.

TBL WSH
CorsiFor% 56.19% (1st) 51.23CF% (5th)
Scoring Chance For% 58.13% (1st) 51.30% (6th)
High Danger Chancer For% 59.76% (1st) 51.20% (7th)
Expected Goals For% 60.13% (1st) 50.74 (6th)
PDO 102.56 101.24

The Lightning are an amazing team, arguably the best in the playoffs based off of the numbers. The fact they dispatched the Bruins so quickly was mightily impressive, considering many thought the Bruins, a possession powerhouse, would win that series. The Lightning made them look like chump change.

There is some context to the Capital’s numbers though. The Capitals have been without Andre Burakovsky for the entire duration of the playoffs and he was consistently driving possession and scoring chances for the team before he got injured. Also, the Capitals went without right wing Tom Wilson for the final three games of their second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins due to a suspension. He is a member of the first-line, one of the best in the league, so missing him hurt. Devante Smith-Pelly almost played two full games on the top-line while Wilson was suspended and that line was a disaster when he was. Nicklas Backstrom also missed a full game against the Penguins, but really it was more like two, because he received his injury in the first period of Game 5 and didn’t look right before leaving quickly in the third period.

All of that is not to say that if the Caps were mostly healthy and did not have Wilson gone because of a suspension, their numbers would probably look much better. Still, they wouldn’t match what the Lightning did through two rounds. Tampa Bay did play a much easier opponent in the first round compared to the Capitals, but played a slightly more difficult opponent in the second round, so that affects the numbers a bit too.

The Lightning should be starting the third round against the Capitals fully healthy, while the boys in red will not. Even if Backstrom plays in the series, he will be very handicapped. It is possible he broke his hand based on the bandaging he had. If it was the regular season, he’d be out for weeks, but it’s the playoffs so he might play if he can grasp his stick. Burakovsky has been skating, but there is no telling when he could return. He looked great in his first practice back with the team, though he was in a non-contact jersey.

The numbers may look overwhelming, but that’s the beauty of hockey, anything can happen. If the Capitals keep on fighting they will give themselves a chance. They dispatched the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, so why can’t they take care of the Lightning?

By Luke Adomanis

This entry was posted in Data and Analytics, News, NHL, Playoffs, Teams, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Washington Capitals-Tampa Bay Lightning Numbers Preview

  1. Pingback: Strong Turnout from Thursday’s Capitals Optional Practice Prior to Traveling to Tampa | NoVa Caps

  2. Pingback: The Capitals Are Underdogs And That Could Be A Good Thing | NoVa Caps

  3. Pingback: How a Big Call in the First Period Led to a Turning Point for the Capitals in Game 1 | NoVa Caps

  4. Pingback: Capitals–Lightning Game 1: A Look At The Numbers | NoVa Caps

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s