Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
Although the score for the second game of the best-of-seven series against the Boston Bruins read 4-3, the Capitals did not put up their best showing on the ice on Monday night. If the Capitals were able to pull out the victory in overtime, it would have been nothing short of grand larceny.
For context, the Capitals and head coach Peter Laviolette’s hands were forced into starting nearly 40-year-old Craig Anderson in net for Game 2, following Vitek Vanecek’s lower body injury in the first period of Game 1. Anderson played solid in Game 1 and for large portions of Game 2. The quality of chances the Caps were giving up with a goaltender who played in four regular season games this season is highly concerning.
Let’s take a look at a side-to-side comparison of the possession metrics from Game 1 and Game 2:
In Game 1, Boston had the higher share of high danger chances for, but the Capitals were able to balance that by out-generating shot attempts. The Bruins owned both metrics in Game 2.
A 70.83 HDCF% share in a game that had 24 total high danger chances during 5-on-5 play is daunting. In terms of raw numbers, the Bruins had 17 high danger chances for and the Caps had 7.
This is not a formula for success in the playoffs, against a team with a very good group of forwards in their top six, and a third line that has offensive talent. It is especially not a good formula when starting a soon-to-be 40-year-old with four regular season games under his belt in 2021.
Here’s how the Bruins’ lines performed on Monday night:
The only line that was “bad” for the Bruins was the fourth line of Lazar, Kuraly, and Wagner, who got a whopping 5:58 of ice time during 5-on-5 play. The bad news for the Caps here is that the Bruins’ top lines owned possession, goals for share, and expected goals for shares.
On top of that, the Bruins were able to keep their forward lines consistent, keeping chemistry alive. With the injury to Lars Eller in Game 2, here are all the forward lines the Capitals deployed:
When your top lines in Corsi For percentage are the ones that skated less than three minutes together through the course of the game, that’s not a great plan for success. The good news for the Caps is that the depth scoring is pitching-in greatly, and that’s made this series a lot closer.
4th line has half (3) of Capitals goals so far in the series. #ALLCAPS
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) May 18, 2021
The next step is for more of the Capitals’ top offensive threats to get onto the board.
Honestly, if you looked at all these metrics and didn’t know that this game went to overtime, you’d probably be really surprised. The Capitals need to do better defensively and generate better possession rates. Depending on injury situations, you might be forced into dressing centers that aren’t currently in the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see if Evgeny Kuznetsov ramps up into the roster after exiting the COVID-19 protocol recently.
By Justin Trudel