The Washington Capitals won a decisive home opener for the first game of the season with a 7-0 blasting of the Boston Bruins. The next night they were part of another seven goal game, but this time on the wrong end, losing 6-7 in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It sounds bad, but when you consider the Caps played 20 hours earlier, had four less power plays, and were called for a cheapy penalty in overtime that ended the game, it’s actually quite impressive. If the Capitals were rested, they more than likely take the win.
It’s usually not best to look at analytics on games that are played on the backend of a back-to-back because it’s usually ugly, but it’s worth looking to see what happened. This is provided by MoneyPuck.com
The Capitals were playing a great game until you could see them running out of gas where most teams do when playing the backend of a back-to-back: middle of the second period. After that the Penguins took over with the help of six total power plays, which makes defending teams even more tired.
After adjusting for flurry/score/venue the Penguins were only expected to score 3.68 5v5 goals, while Capitals were expected to score 2.66, so only one less than the Penguins. Impressive considering how tired the Capitals were.
The best players of the game were the Djoos-Carlson top pair and the first and fourth line. Djoos-Carlson were +27.5%in RelHDCF%. The fourth line of Walker-Dowd-DSP were +16.13RelHDCF% and Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Connolly were +21.33RelHDCF%.
The third line of Burakovsky-Eller-Stephenson took a blasting in the game, which was seen even in the eye test. They were a -35.68RelHDCF%. That’s terrible. But again, the whole team was tired and I’m sure Lars Eller still isn’t feeling great after that Marchand jumping from the night before.
The fact the Capitals got a point is a great sign. Even when completely out of gas they fought hard and clawed back into the game against a great opponent to get some points. This game should be considered a win. Now they’ll get a long rest as they won’t play again for another six days. Great scheduling, NHL.
[Numbers provided by Natural Stat Trick]
By Luke Adomanis