In the Capitals’ second round robin matinee matchup of the postseason, the Capitals fell to the Flyers 3-1, with the main story of the game being the well-trodden path to the Caps’ penalty box.
The Caps had trouble generating positive momentum throughout the contest, bogged down by the Flyers’ forecheck and the lack of continuity due to the amount of penalties that the Capitals committed.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at the advanced analytics to uncover some of the trends in this matchup. Statistics used in this piece are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
Ultimately, this wasn’t the Capitals’ strongest performance. The possession metrics (Corsi For and Fenwick For) are interesting because the Capitals actually controlled possession in the first and second periods, but came up empty on the scoresheet.
The largest issue here for the Capitals was scoring chances and high danger scoring chances, where the Flyers really owned that mark outside of the second period. They had 16 scoring chances at five on five play compared to the Caps’ 12. For high danger chances, the Flyers outpaced the Caps 8-5 in that regard, which drove up the expected goals for percentage for the Flyers.
It’s difficult to win in the NHL when multiple penalties disrupt any momentum you might muster after successfully killing off a penalty. The Capitals were very successful killing off penalties, but when you’re consistently playing on the penalty kill, the best offensive players are kept off the ice.
This had a significant effect on the first line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson, who struggled considerably, posting possession metrics in the 30 percentage range at five on five play today. In positive news, Jakub Vrana played excellently, posting a 63.64 Corsi For percentage and a 55.56 Fenwick For percentage.
Here’s a graph showing the expected goals at five on five play broken down by player and a “deserve to win o’meter” showing win percentages based on simulations (courtesy of moneypuck.com):