Following an extended layoff due to the global pandemic, the Washington Capitals are entering the 2020 NHL Playoffs as the top seed in the Metropolitan Division. Washington will play three round robin games while the qualifying round for the playoffs unfolds. The round robin games include bouts with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Boston.
In this piece, we will analyze the head-to-head matchup against their first opponent on Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning, focusing mainly on head-to-head analytical data from this season.
After an extremely hot start in February, where Tampa Bay rattled off nine wins in a row, the Bolts cooled significantly in the latter half of the month and in the first half of March before the pandemic caused suspension of the NHL season. Tampa Bay ended up finishing the month 3-6-1.
The Capitals were 3-0-0 against the Lightning in head-to-head matchups this season:
- On November 29th, 2019:
- The Capitals won this game in overtime 4-3 on a Dmitry Orlov goal assisted by Kuznetsov and Oshie. (Game recap)
- On December 14th, 2019:
- The Capitals won convincingly 5-2, with four goals in the third period from Eller, Hathaway, Oshie, and Wilson. (Game recap)
- On December 21, 2019:
- The Capitals rode another strong period, with Orlov and Dowd potting two goals to seal the victory 3-1. (Game recap)
Here are the overall combined head-to-head advanced analytics between Tampa Bay and the Capitals (statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick):
Although the Capitals owned the season series against the Lightning, there’s a lot of context to add around the matchups.
All three of the bouts against the Lightning were in 2019, with two of them coming before the Capitals hit the hard slump in early December. On top of that, the games were a lot closer than they appeared on the scoreboard, with a big piece of that being apparent in the expected goals for percentage skewing more towards Tampa. This means that Tampa had more quality scoring chances that they ultimately did not convert on.
The Caps ruled possession and high danger chance generation, which is usually a good recipe for success in the NHL today.
Below are the standard head-to-head team statistics, courtesy of HockeyIceStorm.com: (Click to enlarge).
Players to watch:
- Dmitry Orlov (2 goals and 3 assists against Tampa this season)
- TJ Oshie (1 goal and 4 assists against Tampa this season)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 goal and 3 assists against Tampa this season)
- Nikita Kucherov (1 goal and 4 assists against Washington this season)
- Brayden Point (2 goals and 2 assists against Washington this season)
- Alex Killorn (1 goal and 2 assists against Washington this season)
By Justin Trudel