After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second period of Game 1, the Capitals were thoroughly outworked and outplayed at even strength, leading to four unanswered goals by the Islanders en route to a 4-2 victory.
The Capitals struggled in the second and third period to muster scoring chances against the Islanders at even strength, and the two power play goals from TJ Oshie weren’t enough to propel the Caps to success.
Here are the head to head statistics for Game 1, statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick:
Varlamov was strong at even strength, posting a 100% save percentage. On top of that, the Islanders really controlled the game through their aggressive forecheck and by clogging up the neutral zone.
This led to dump-in attempts by the Capitals that were rarely retrieved. The Islanders also capitalized on multiple counterattack attempts, creating nine total high danger chances in this round, with six of them coming in the final frame.
Holtby struggled at times in this one too, especially with rebound control. The Caps were having difficulty containing the Islanders, and led to multiple high quality chances against Holtby.
At the end of the day, the performance that the Caps put together today wasn’t deserving of a win. The Islanders were hounding the puck at even strength, and ended up creating more scoring chances.
Below are some interesting graphics from Money Puck, which show expected goals for at all strengths (including power plays), and a Deserve-to-Win meter:
It’s important to note for this graphic that it includes all strengths. The Capitals’ power play was effective and had multiple chances in the game, resulting in a higher expected goals figure. Five on five play was a different story, with the Isles putting up a 1.68 expected goals and the Capitals putting up a measly .87:
Both Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov had pretty strong showings today. Kuznetsov had to pick up the slack from Nicklas Backstrom’s injury, and elevated his play today. Jakub Vrana needs to pick up his production, as he was left with a 0.0 expected goals figure. The Capitals will need his production to be successful in a seven game series.
This one is interesting, but this mostly has to do with Money Puck’s calculation for their simulations. They change the goaltending to league average in each simulated matchup, which would have driven Varlamov’s save percentage down, and Holtby’s up.
The Capitals will need to regroup and commit to the physical play along the boards. The Capitals struggled to win puck battles today, and the Islanders made them pay for it. Backstrom’s health and Eller’s re-entry into the lineup on Friday will hopefully pay different dividends for the Caps.
By Justin Trudel