Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Who would have predicted that the Washington Capitals first game in the Eastern Conference Finals would go like that. The Caps came out flying and took a 4-0 lead after just two periods and eventually won 4-2. And if you think the numbers matched the “eye-test”, then you’d be right.
54-35 in shot attempts, 19-14 in scoring chances, and 12-4 in high danger chances. Just a dominant game by the Capitals.
You can see by the heat map (below) that the Capitals were all over the slot. You maybe want to see that heat blob closer to the net but it’s okay when you see how the Caps kept the Lightning away from their own net.
The Capitals took it a little too easy to start the 3rd period, which could be expected when up 4-0, but they picked it back up after they got scored on early in the period.
Tampa Bay scored a goal right after the Capitals were pushing play, but they didn’t let that get them down. The Capitals basically shut it down for the last 5-7 minutes and the Lightning couldn’t get much going.
For Expected Goals, the Capitals were obviously strong. They were expected to get 2.65 5v5 goals and ended up with 2. The Lightning were expected 1.22 goals at 5v5 and ended up with 1, so it adds up.
Again, you can see the Capitals had a pretty great 3rd period besides that crazy flurry with around 8 minutes left in the period. But after that, the Capitals did a great job of making sure the Lightning couldn’t get through to Holtby.
As usual, Jakub Vrana was amazing and he should never ever be sat or demoted. He was on ice for 4 high danger chances for and 0 against. The kid is an offensive beast every time he jumps over the boards. Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos, Braydon Coburn, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov combined barely did more damage than Vrana.
It’s also good to see every line throwing in on scoring chances. Our 4th line center was 3rd in expected goals between everyone on ice. That’s great news because we will need everyone pitching in if we want to keep winning. And make no doubt about it, the Lightning will be coming back like a storm, pun very much intended. In the first round against the Boston Bruins, the Lightning lost the first game of the series at home then came back and won 4 straight. The Lightning are extremely good and the Capitals aren’t even close to being done. They need to keep their heads down and keep charging forward.
By Luke Adomanis