Photo: NHL via Getty Images
In the Washington Capitals‘ final round robin matchup of the 2020 NHL Playoffs, they’ll face off against the Boston Bruins, the top team in the Eastern Conference during the truncated 2019-20 NHL Regular Season. With a win the Capitals will face Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders in the first round. With a loss, the Capitals will face the Carolina Hurricanes.
In this important matchup that will determine overall seeding for the Eastern Conference, we’ll take a look at the head-to-head advanced analytics between the Capitals and the Bruins (Statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference).
The Bruins ended the pandemic shortened regular season with a record of 7-3-0, with all ten games coming against 2020 NHL Playoff participants. In that ten game stretch, the Bruins were led by Brad Marchand (5 goals and 8 assists), David Pastrnak (6 goals and 7 assists), and Torey Krug (1 goal and 9 assists). In net for the final ten game stretch, Tuukka Rask carried the bulk of the workload, posting a .917 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average in all strengths, and a .928 save percentage and 1.94 goals against average during five on five play.
Through the course of the season, the Bruins relied on their first line, one of the league’s best, to provide their scoring. David Pastrnak posted 48 goals and 47 assists, Marchand tallied 28 goals and 59 assists, and Patrice Bergeron chalked up 31 goals and 25 assists.
The Bruins have played very sluggishly in their first two round robin games, losing to both Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.
The Capitals took the season series with the Bruins 2-1-0, with one of the victories coming in the shootout. The Capitals have yet to face the Bruins in the year 2020, with all three games against the Bruins this season occurring in November and December 2019. This is notable, since the Caps started struggling in December.
- On November 16th, 2019:
- The Capitals won 3-2 in the shootout. Travis Boyd scored his first goal of the season, and Oshie added his tenth. Braden Holtby clinched the win, stoning Chris Wagner after Jakub Vrana tallied the winning goal in the shootout (Game Log).
- On December 11th, 2019:
- The Capitals won this game 3-2, with Oshie scoring two goals. John Carlson added the game winning goal in the third period. Braden Holtby had a solid showing, allowing 2 goals on 32 shots (Game Log)
- On December 23rd, 2019:
- The Bruins wiped the floor with the Capitals, taking this one 7-3 after scoring four goals in the first period. Ovechkin, Eller, and Hathaway posted markers for the Caps. Holtby did not fare well in this bout, allowing 4 goals on 11 shots (Game Log).
This is where things get a bit interesting:
In the first matchup against the Bruins, the Capitals dominated puck possession, posting a 60.26 Corsi For Percentage and a 57.58 Fenwick For Percentage. These numbers line up pretty well with the season series head-to-head statistics. The second matchup was a bit more neutral, with the Caps having a 54.12 Corsi For and a 52.46 Fenwick For.
The real funkiness comes in the third matchup. The Capitals allowed 7 goals on 25 shots (two of which were empty netters), but outshot the Bruins 49-25 overall. The Capitals only gave up eight shots at even strength, but still gave up two goals. The Capitals ended up with a 70.18 Corsi For and a 70.45 Fenwick For in this bout, but this is typical of a game that was put relatively out of reach early. The Capitals were neutralized in the first period, but made hard pushes in the second and third periods to no avail.
Below are the standard season statistics for the Bruins and the Capitals for the entire 2019-20 regular season, courtesy of Hockey Ice Storm:
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Players to Watch
- John Carlson: 1 goal and 3 assists
- TJ Oshie: 3 goals
- Tom Wilson: 2 assists
- David Pastrnak: 2 goals and 3 assists
- Brad Marchand: 1 goal and 3 assists
- David Krejci: 4 assists
By Justin Trudel
xG differential is surprising, but Bruins netminding has been better at close range.