Photo: Patrick McDermott/NHL via Getty Images
The Capitals’ 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday wasn’t the most high-scoring affair, but an ultimately crucial one for the Caps in their push for the Metropolitan Division title. In this piece, Luke Adomanis breaks down the numbers for the game.
That wasn’t the most impressive win the Capitals have gotten this season, but they picked up two very important points. The Flyers didn’t control the play the entire game, but more so the second period. The first period was decent and the third period was fantastic for the Capitals. MoneyPuck has the stats.
There could be a reason as to why the Caps’ performance wasn’t as strong today, at least through the first 40 minutes. With defenseman Michal Kempny out with an injury, Head Coach Todd Reirden experimented with different pairings. For instance, John Carlson saw some time on the left side of fellow right-hander Nick Jensen, a first for him. Christian Djoos also seemed to play on every pairing at one point. Also, some type of illness bug seems to be going around, as both Carl Hagelin and Evgeny Kuznetsov have fallen ill to it, so perhaps some players are playing with it also. The Flyers also seem to be suffering from it as well.
As shown here, the Capitals got outplayed by the Flyers. Jakub Vrana had a great game, seeing two breakaways, one of which turned into a goal. When one dives into the numbers, this seems odd, as he received the third-least 5v5 time from the Caps’ coaching staff today. He’s been perhaps the most consistent forward all season, so him losing time in this game is strange. Hopefully, for the team’s sake, it’s just a fluke because it’s important he gets as much time as possible. Andre Burakovsky also turned in another great game, as he’s been consistently great for a month now.
Obviously, one would like to see the Caps play better against a tired Flyers team, but for them it’s all about playing great this week. They will face the Carolina Hurricanes twice in a row then the juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning yet again. The next three games will really be the deciding factor where the Capitals will end this season in the standings and how the playoffs will look for them.
By Luke Adomanis