Photo: NHL via Getty Images
The Washington Capitals, for the first time in their 44 year existence, have won a Stanley Cup Final game, and it was against the Vegas Golden Knights; what a time to be alive. It was a hard-fought battle, and with some magic from Braden Holtby, won the game. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
If you take this game into context, with the fact Evgeny Kuznetsov got hurt early in the game in the 1st period, this was an impressive win. It’s not like they smashed the Golden Knights in Scoring Chances or High Danger Chances, but they were still in the positive, which again, is good considering no Kuznetsov (arguably Caps best player in the playoffs).
This heat map is very interesting because if you look at these two teams combined heat maps every game they are usually surrounding the opposing net. Neither team created too much, but neither team allowed much. I think the reason for this was the ice conditions were particularly terrible. The puck was bouncing everywhere, which doesn’t allow a lot of clean passes.
With the limited chances being handed out, the Capitals held the lead in expected goals at 5v5. It wasn’t by much, but to do this to a strong home team in Vegas, it was impressive. With the game on the line in the 3rd, the Capitals made sure they weren’t overwhelmed.
This is not a repeat image. Jakub Vrana was once again leading the team in expected goals. This kid is poised for an absolute break out. He’s shooting below 6%. If he can find a groove he could be a game breaker in these last handful of games. Also shoutout to Brooks Orpik being tied with Alexander Ovechkin in expected goals.
The Orlov-Niskanen pairing was dynamite tonight. They were 8-7 in Scoring Chances and 4-3 in High Danger Chances. That doesn’t sound great but when you see they only had ONE offensive zone start the whole game, it’s very impressive.
A solid team effort resulted in the Capitals first Stanley Cup Finals game win. If they want to continue to win they’ll have to do the same or even be better, especially if Kuznetsov is out long term. But this team seems to thrive on adversity so I wouldn’t count them out yet.
By Luke Adomanis