The Capitals and Rangers wrap-up their eight-game season series with a two-game set at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Wednesday nights. The New York sojourn will also mark the final road trip of the Capitals’ 2020-21 regular season schedule.
With five games remaining in the regular season, the Capitals are currently two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the East Division, but have one game in hand.
Following this week’s two-game set in New York, the Capitals will return home to wrap-up their regular season schedule with a two-game set against the Flyers this Friday and Saturday and then the regular season finale against the Bruins next Tuesday.
REMAINING GAMES AND STRENGTHS OF SCHEDULE
The Penguins have the weakest remaining schedule in the East Division with just four games remaining, two against the Flyers and two against the Sabres.
In advance of the final regular season set with the Rangers, we set the stage with a review of the previous six games, and take a look at a few of the trends that have emerged during the previous six games.
The Capitals have won just two of the first six meetings between the two teams this season, but have been in every game of the series. All of the games have been decided in regulation.
BASIC GAME STATS
As we’ve done in all of our previous series review posts, we begin with the basic stats from each game. (Click to enlarge).
The Capitals have yet to win a game at Madison Square Garden this season, the only road arena where the Capitals have yet to secure a victory so far this season, but they have two more bites of the, uh…(big) apple.
The following table provides the averages for the first six games of the series.
The shots on goal and turnovers have been fairly even over the course of the first six games.
Both specials teams have operated at relatively equal efficiency in the first six games of the series. The Capitals are currently third in league in power play efficiency at 26.3%, and the Rangers are 14th in the league on the power play at 21.1%. The Capitals have the 6th rank penalty kill at 83.4%, while the Rangers are 8th in the league at 83.1%.
The Capitals have led the battle at the face-off dot and have applied a greater amount of hits in the first half-dozen games.
The following graph plots the shot attempts percentages for (CF% – blue), high-danger shot attempts for percentages (HDCF% – orange), scoring chances for percentages (SCF% – red) and expected goals for percentages (xGF% – cyan) for the Capitals in each of the six games against the Rangers. (Click to enlarge).
The Capitals have done well in the possession and shot attempts metrics so far this season against the Rangers, with the exception of the first two games of the series, which they lost. The Capitals dominated the 4th and 6th games in possession and shot metrics, but lost both contests.
The Capitals have dominated the battle down low (HDCF%) and (SCF%) in five of the first six games played in the series.
GOALS AND EXPECTED GOALS DIFFERENTIALS
The next graph plots the actual goals for and expected goals for differentials (GF – xGF – orange) and the actual goals against and expected goals against differentials (xGA – GA – blue) for the Capitals in the first six games of the series.
With the exception of the third and fifth games of the series, the Capitals have underperformed in goals and expected goals differentials on both ends of the ice. (They have been scoring fewer goals than expected, and giving up more goals than expected). The Capitals have outperformed expected goals against only once in the series.
GOALTENDERS – SEASON – 5v5
The next graph simply plots the save percentage and goals against average for all goaltenders on the Rangers and the Capitals rosters over the course of the season (not just against each other).
Semyon Varlamov (NYI) and Igor Shesterkin (NYR) remain the cream of the crop in the East Division, while the Capitals netminders have hovered somewhere in the middle for most of the season. Vanecek did spend several weeks in the top four netminders in the East Division in the middle of the season.
GOALS SAVED ABOVE AVERAGE, GOALS AGAINST DIFFERENTIALS (xGA – GA) AND HIGH-DANGER SAVE PERCENTAGE
The following graph plots the goals saved above average (GSAA – blue), the high-danger save percentage (HDSV% – orange) and the expected goals against and actual goals against differentials (xGA – GA – red) for each of the goaltenders for the season.
Once again Shesterkin leads in all statistical categories. Vanecek is second among all Capitals and Rangers netminders in high-danger save percentage and goals saved above average, but has the worst goals against differential among all goaltenders.
The Rangers have been a tough test for the Capitals so far this season, winning four of the first six meetings, although the Capitals have played fairly well throughout most of the season series.
The Capitals will have to likely win-out to retake first place in the East Division, although the Flyers and Sabres will have a lot to say about how the final standings play-out. With five games in eight days, the Capitals will need to play some of their best hockey to finish strong in the division, and be set for the start of the playoffs.
By Jon Sorensen