In what is likely Braden Holtby’s last game as a Washington Capital, the Caps’ offense never got started in a 4-0 rout at the hand of the Islanders, losing the series 4-1. With a pair of goals by Anthony Beauvillier, the Isles were able to sit back and force the Caps to try to pierce their 1-3-1 neutral zone trap. The Capitals could never generate enough high danger chances to score against Semyon Varlamov, who posted his third game of the series without giving up an even strength goal against.
This will be an interesting offseason for General Manager Brian MacLellan, who has a lot of work to do to bring the team back to the caliber we’ve seen in his tenure as general manager.
Here are the head-to-head advanced analytics, statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick:
This is where the possession metrics are misleading. Sure, the Caps owned the majority of shot attempts, but many of those were blocked or low danger chances.
On top of that, the Islanders really sat back in their neutral zone trap for pretty much the entire third period, daring the Caps to beat the 1-3-1 trap. The Caps couldn’t do it, and couldn’t muster a goal against the Isles.
Ultimately, the Caps didn’t show the level of desperation they did in Game 4. The energy wasn’t there tonight, the offense wasn’t crisp, and the defense had miscues at inopportune times.
The Islanders, with 11 shots on goal during 5 on 5 play, had their one even strength goal scored off of a high danger chance. Even with the Caps owning possession throughout the game in regards to shot attempts, the Islanders had more high danger chances for. The Caps weren’t able to generate high danger chances, and that’s the difference when the Isles’ goaltending has been spectacular all series.
At the end of the day, you cannot win a series without being able to score at five on five play. One Capital scored at even strength all series: Alex Ovechkin. You aren’t going to win games if you’re getting that level of scoring in the situation where you’re most commonly playing. You’re not beating any team in a seven game series if that’s the case.
Here are some more graphics, courtesy of Money Puck:
Not much to see here. The only reason the Isles’ deserve to win percentage isn’t higher is because the simulation assumes league average goaltending.
This graphic is demoralizing. There was no desperation to the Capitals play. This effort isn’t exactly what’s going to fuel a historic 3-0 series comeback.
This just speaks for itself. The Islanders controlled the game because they came up big on special teams and managed risk at even strength. The Caps threw 21 shots on goal during 5 on 5 play, and only 3 of those were high danger shots. Expected goals are heavily weighted by quality of chances. Low quality shots don’t typically turn into goals, and typically means you aren’t going to win the game.
By Justin Trudel