The Road Is Calling, Today Is The Day: Capitals Visit Bruins For 6th Game Of Season Series Sunday Night In Beantown

Photo: AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins have played five games of their eight-game series scheduled for the 2020-21 regular season, with the sixth game set for Sunday night at TD Garden in Boston. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM.

In advance of Sunday night’s contest, we present 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 for tonight’s tilt.


PREGAME

Capitals: 26-11-4 (56 points) – The Capitals share the top spot in the East Division with the New York Islanders, with 15 games remaining for both teams. The Capitals are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games.

Bruins: 21-11-6 (48 points) – The Bruins won the last meeting, 4-2, earlier this week in the District. While the Capitals had the day-off on Saturday, the Bruins lost to the Flyers, 3-2, in a Saturday afternoon clash in Philly. The Bruins are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.


CAPITALS vs. BRUINS

Head-To-Head

The Bruins lead the season series 3-0-2, winning the last game in Washington, 4-2, on April 8. Sunday night’s tilt is the second of three games with the Bruins in the month of April, with the final game of the month taking place in Beantown next Sunday. The fourth and final meeting of the season will be the Capitals’ regular-season finale on May 11 in DC.

The following table provides a few of the basic stats from each of the previous five games of the series.

Special Teams

The Capitals are four of 17 on the power play against the Bruins (23.5%). The Bruins are three of 16 on the power play against the Capitals (18.7%). The Capitals are currently 7th in the league on the power play at 24.0% while the Bruins are 9th in the league at 23.3%.

The Capitals are 8th in the league on the penalty kill at 83.1%. The Bruins remain the league’s best team on the penalty kill at 87.1%, but gave up two power play goals against the Capitals in the last meeting.

Shot Attempts/Possession

The following graph plots the Capitals shot attempt percentages (CF% – blue), high-danger shot attempt percentages (HDCF% – orange), scoring chances for percentages (SCF% – red), and expected goals for percentage (xGF% – cyan) at five-on-five for each game against the Bruins this season.

The Bruins held the shots and possession advantage in the first two meetings, while the Capitals led in the advanced metrics for the third game of the series. The Bruins have led in the last two meetings, but with a very slight edge.

The Capitals have led in high-danger shot attempts and expected goals percentages in three of the five meetings.

GOALTENDING

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 through Saturday, April 10. (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. He will get the start Sunday night. It’s the first time he’s started back-to-back games since March 3 and 5.

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%. both netminders just make the top quadrant, riding the average line for save percentage.

The Bruins new guy in net, Jeremy Swayman, is 2-1-0 with a .929 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA average, including a victory over the Capitals in the last meeting. He took the loss in Saturday’s game against the Flyers, and is unlikely to get the start on Sunday.

CHIPS AND SHAVINGS

Capitals Forwards – Shots and Possession Metrics After 41 Games

The following graph plots the Capitals forward’s shot attempt percentages (CF% – blue), high-danger shot attempt percentages (HDCF% – orange), scoring chances for percentages (SCF% – cyan), expected goals for percentage (xGF% – green) and offensive zone start percentages at five-on-five. (Click to enlarge).

The graph hasn’t changed a great deal since the last time we visited the season stats for each forward. The fourth line of Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway continue to be the highest performing line for the Capitals.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson and Lars Eller are trending up since our last analysis, while Daniel Sprong, Jakub Vrana and Nicklas Backstrom have seen a drop in stats.

Capitals Defensemen – Shots and Possession Metrics After 41 Games

The following graph plots the Capitals defensemen’s shot attempt percentages (CF% – blue), high-danger shot attempt percentages (HDCF% – orange), scoring chances for percentages (SCF% – cyan), expected goals for percentage (xGF% – green) and offensive zone start percentages (OFZS – red) at five-on-five. (Click to enlarge).

Nick Jensen and Zdeno Chara continue to post the best advanced stats among Capitals defensemen. They remain the only blue liners above 50% in all metrics, although their numbers have dropped since our last analysis.

CAPITALS vs. EAST DIVISION

The next graph details the Capitals shot and possession metrics against each team in the East Division after 41 games.

The Islanders and Penguins are the only teams to hold a season advantage over the Capitals, with the Flyers and Devils coming in close to even with the Capitals at five-on-five.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE/REMAINING GAMES

Outside of the three remaining head-to-head games, the Bruins have an easier strength of schedule (.512) for games remaining in the regular season. The Bruins have three games ‘in hand” which may or may not be advantageous.

The Penguins continue to have the easiest remaining strength of schedule (.485) while the Capitals have the third most challenging strength of schedule ahead.

Just fifteen games remain in the regular season for the Capitals, with each game gaining more and more significance as the battle for the top spot in the East continues. The Bruins will have a lot to say about how they and the Capitals finish, so Sunday night’s tilt should be a pretty good battle.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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