Postgame Analytics: Capitals Flip the Script on Islanders, Dominate at Even Strength in Game 4

The Washington Capitals were able to finally notch a win in their first round series with the New York Islanders in Game 4, pushed by a dominant performance at five on five play, after falling to a 2-0 deficit early in the first period.

Previous Game Analytics:

The Capitals really flipped the script on the Islanders, pushing an aggressive cycle and forecheck against the Islanders in the Caps’ offensive zone, and effectively managed chances against. This is what the Capitals have been looking for, and this is one of the best performances by the Capitals since mid-December.

Let’s take a look at some of the advanced analytics from the matchup in Game 4:

Blue Jackets (9)

The interesting piece here, other than the Capitals taking absolute control of the game at five on five play, is that the Islanders owned the majority of the high danger chances for.

The context behind that is that the Islanders generated five high danger chances in the first period, and only two in the two subsequent periods. The Caps effectively split the high danger chances two to two in the second and third periods.

On top of that, Holtby’s save percentage looks low on the surface, but it’s likely due to the Islanders only generating 12 shots on goal during five on five situations. One of those goals was on a high danger chance, and both of those goals were scored off of deflections.

In previous Postgame Analytics posts, we’ve called for more offensive zone cycling and possession to neutralize the Islanders’ aggressive forecheck and counterattack strategy, and tonight we finally saw that from the Capitals.

The benefit of controlling the puck in your offensive zone for extended periods of time is that you wear down the defenders, and they don’t have the energy to go on a counterattack if they gain possession and clear the zone. We saw multiple times where the Capitals controlled play in the offensive zone, generating chances and wearing down the opposition.

A key example of this is the second line’s performance (statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick):

This is an insanely dominant performance by the second line. Corsi For Percentages this high are impressive, especially since they are going against hard competition in most cases. Eller, unbelievably, was on the ice for only one shot attempt against at even strength in Game 4.

Here are some more interesting graphics, courtesy of Money Puck:

xg by player all sits game 4

xg all sits game 4

The Islanders actually ended up with a higher cumulative expected goals for in this game, due to the amount of power play opportunities they were granted. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders had 1.52 expected goals for on the power play, and the Caps had only .2. The key to success in Game 5 will be to stay out of the box, since the Islanders are creating chances on the power play.d2w game 4

This is something to take with a grain of salt, because it’s mainly hinging on the expected goals for and average goaltending. Holtby was tremendous during the penalty kill, stopping all 12 shots he faced, including four high danger chances against. The Caps will surely need more of that if the trend of marching to the penalty box continues.

By Justin Trudel

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About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
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