Exiting the All-Star break and bye week, the Washington Capitals had just 10 games remaining before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3PM on March 3. Of those 10 games, four of them will be against top teams in the league, which should provide excellent “measuring sticks” for Capitals management to make final decisions prior to the trade deadline.
Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins, the league’s best team, was the first of the four measuring stick games. We will be taking a closer look at these games from here to the trade deadline, so let’s get to it.
Statistically, it was a good first period for the Capitals, who successfully reversed mini-surges by the Bruins at the 8 and 15-minute marks. The Capitals held a 1-0 lead at the break and led in five-on-five shot attempts, 17-14, scoring chances, 12-4, high-danger chances, 6-2 and xGF .85 to .54.
The second was another good period for the Caps, reversing an early surge by the Bruins and then getting a goal from Garnett Hathaway, which would ultimately be the game-winner.
The Bruins answered late, otherwise the Capitals stood toe-to-toe with league’s best possession team. Five-on-five shot attempts were tied 28-28, but the Bruins stormed back in xGF, leading 1.93 to .98 after 40 minutes of play.
The third period was a mixed bag of surges by both teams, but in the end, there were no goals. The Capitals continued to reverse a couple of sustained surges by the Bruins, including two key stops in the first 10 minutes.
For the game, the Capitals led in five-on-five shot attempts, 44-42, scoring chances, 10-9 and high-danger chances, 11-8. The Bruins edged the Capitals in expected goals for, 2.35 to 2.22.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- Darcy Kuemper turned in a gem, stopping 27 of 28 shots on goal for a .968 save percentage. Kuemper had an expected goals against of 2.35 but gave up just the one score. He’s the reason the Capitals earned two points.
- The Capitals penalty kill was outstanding, shutting down the league’s 5th-best power play, going a perfect 4 for 4.
- The Capitals stymied the Bruins top two lines, which was also key to the victory.
The first graph plots the individual expected goals for percentages for each of the Capitals skaters at five-on-five. [Click to enlarge]
These are pretty good numbers on the whole, as the Bruins had the 5th-best expected goals for percentage (53.66%) so far this season.
Individual Expected Goals For
The final graph plots the individual expected goals for each skater at five-on-five [Click to enlarge].
The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Strome and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was the Capitals most productive line, even though they did not register a goal.
Sonny Milano had a good game, had the 5th-best ixG, but had the lowest TOI (10:18) among all Capitals forwards. This is Laviolette looking to go defensive with a lead. Again, we can debate if a prevent defense wins games or prevents wins, but it it got the job done on Saturday.
- Capitals were dominated on faceoffs, 59-41%, which isn’t a major surprise, considering Patrice Bergeron is probably the best at faceoffs in the league. The Capitals did win key draws in the waning moments of the game that helped secure the victory.
- The Caps have now had five 5-on-3 power plays this season, totaling 3:57 in duration. They’ve scored on four of the five, with four different players (Oshie, Kuznetsov, Johansson and Backstrom) lighting the lamp.
- The Capitals have allowed fewer than 30 shots in seven of their last 10 games.
- The Capitals have a record of 11-4-0 in their last 15 games at TD Garden.
- For what it’s worth, the loss was the Bruins 4th in five games, when he may or may not means anything.
[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and the NoVa Caps Advanced Analytics Model (NCAAM). If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary]
By Jon Sorensen