The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are halfway through their eight-game series scheduled for the 2020-21 regular season, with the fifth game set for Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Thursday night’s tilt is the first of three games with the Bruins in the month of April, with the following two meetings in taking place in Beantown. The fourth and final meeting of the season will be the regular-season finale in DC.
In advance of Thursday night’s contest, we take a closer look at the current stats for each team and a few of the metrics from the previous head-to-head games in order to provide a little more context to the series.
The Boston Bruins (20-10-6, fourth in the East Division) average 9.8 penalty minutes per game, the second-most in the league.
The Washington Capitals (25-10-4, first in the East Division) have scored 130 goals, which ranks third in the NHL, averaging 3.3 per game.
Last 10 Games
Capitals: 6-4-0, averaging 2.9 goals, five assists, 3.3 penalties and 8.5 penalty minutes while giving up 2.8 goals per game with a .902 save percentage.
Bruins: 6-2-2, averaging 3.o goals, 5, three penalties and 6.2 penalty minutes while giving up 2.6 goals per game with a .914 save percentage.
The Capitals and Bruins have split the first four games of the series, splitting each of the first two-game sets.
The following table provides a few of the basic stats from each of the previous four games of the series.
The Bruins led the shot battle in the first two games, while the Capitals answered back to lead in the last two games of the series.
The Capitals are two for 10 on the power play against the Bruins. The Bruins are just one of 12 on the power play against the Capitals.
The Capitals currently have the 8th best power play in the league at 24.0%. The Bruins have the seventh best power play at 24.1%.
The Capitals penalty kill is ranked seventh in the league at 82.9% while the Bruins have the league’s best penalty kill at 88.7%.
SHOTS AND POSSESSION
Here are the Capitals stats for high-danger shot attempts percentage (HDCF% – blue), high-danger goals for percentage (HDGF% – orange), scoring chances for percentage (SCF% – red) and expected goals for percentage (xGF% – cyan) for the previous four games:
With the exception of the third game of the series, Boston has led in scoring chances for and high-danger shots for in the previous three games. The Capitals have led in expected goals for percentages in the last two games.
Save Percentage and Goals Against Average
The following graph updates the save percentage (SV%) and goals against average (GAA) for each of the East Division goaltenders at five-on-five play. (Click to enlarge).
Vitek Vanecek stopped 38 of 39 shots he faced against the Islanders on Tuesday night. As a result, he moves back into the top quadrant (upper right) of goaltenders in the East Division.
Tuuka Rask has picked up his game as of late, and is now tied in save percentage with fellow Bruins netminder Jaroslav Halak at .913%, but both netminders fall outside of the top quadrant.
Goals Allowed and Expected Goals Allowed Differential (xGA – GA) And Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA)
The following graph plots the goals against (GA) and expected goals against (xGA) differential (xGA – GA) and the goals saved above average (GSAA) for all East Division goaltenders.
Once again, Vitek Vanecek is in the top quadrant in the East Division with regards to goals and expected goals differential and goals saved above average. Both Bruins netminders fall outside of the top quadrant.
Drilling down a little more, lets take a look at the individual game performance for each player on each team for each game of the series. This will allow us to not only see which players have made an impact in each game, but will also allow us to begin to develop a better understanding of how each game in the series has been decided, and allow insight into key trends for both teams.
GAME 1 – AT WASHINGTON (1/30/2021)
The Bruins led in a majority of the key shot and possession metrics in the first game of the season series. The Capitals fourth line of Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway was the best Capitals line in this one.
Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Chris Wagner, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Jakub Zboril, Carson Kuhlman, Kevin Miller and Nick Ritch all had dominating performances, statistically.
GAME 2 – AT WASHINGTON (2/1/2021)
Game 2 of the series was very similar to the first game, with the Bruins dominating the shot and possession metrics. Jakub Vrana had the best game among Capitals forwards.
The Capitals did a little better job against the Bruins top six in this game, although the Bruins stars still had a pretty good game overall.
GAME 3 – AT BOSTON (3/3/2021)
The Capitals won the advanced possession and shot stats battle in the third game of the series. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov had stellar games with regards to scoring chances for and expected goals for percentages.
But it was the Capitals fourth line (again) that was the best in this game, neutralizing the Bruins top line, generating scoring chances with 20% offensive zone shift starts.
Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic were the only Bruins to post positive scoring chances for and expected goals for percentages in the game.
GAME 4 – AT BOSTON ( 3/05/2021)
The Capitals turned in another encouraging game, statistically. Dmitry Orlov and Justin Schultz (second defensive pair) dominated at 5v5 play. T.J. Oshie also had a good game in this one.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULES
Outside of the remaining four head-to-head games, the Bruins have an easier strength of schedule for other games remaining in the regular season.
More on the remaining schedules for the top teams in the East Division can be found here.
By Jon Sorensen