Post-Game Analysis: Capitals Stifle High-Flying Bruins In Boston

Photo: @Capitals

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.


  • 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

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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10 Responses to Post-Game Analysis: Capitals Stifle High-Flying Bruins In Boston

  1. franky619 says:

    First line number’s are pretty solid, they were facing some quality opposition too Bergeron’s line and Mcavoy on D is about as good as it gets. If Mac could trade for a top six right wing this line would do some damage.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      With ya, Franky. Although I might want to see a quality right-shot defenseman brought in before a right-wing, but maybe one of each at the trade deadline?

      • hockeydruid says:

        Jon, please no one at the trade deadline unless they can get someone for Eller or Mantha straight up. NO picks go and NO players from Hershey go in trades this year. Honestly i fail to see what the fascination is in making the playoffs to only go out in the first round, like they have the past 4 years. With so many players on the roster still UFA or RFA and a lame duck head coach would it not be more prudent to pass on trades, unless you can drop Eller or Mantha and no assets. and get ready for next season with a new HC and many new players? I can only imagine that the ego driven owner would object to this however sometimes it is better to look to the future not be satisfied with present day mediocrity. Floating around as a possible 2nd wildcard is nothing to brag about; as far as Im concerned. maybe part of the valor for this season would be to play it out and then evaluate which players in Hershey will be here in Wash next season, which free RFA can be resigned at a reasonable rater and which UFA are needed back and then before signing players or even and UFA outside the organization go out and hire a head coach to take this team through a rebuild. I think that the failure of the owner and GM have been not looking at the future but instead looking at only this year and making the playoffs no matter the cost.

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          I’m onboard with your strategy, Druid. We need to start hanging on to all picks, even 3rd rounders. And I also think we should maybe focus on reloading for next season. That might be a better way of getting Ovi a cup than mini-mods at each trade deadline.

      • franky619 says:

        Oh yeah, a legit top 4 RHD would be my #1 priority too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kane and Klinberg

    • Anonymous says:

      Would be interesting. We’d need to cut some salary. Who are you proposing?

    • hockeydruid says:

      Neither as salary to high and age. Klingberg makes $7m and at 30 is also a UFA after the season so unless the Ducks are willing to take Mantha and Eller for him I say a big NO. This team does not need anther UFA on its roster. Although if the Ducks would take Eller and Mantha in trade and not want anything else it would work as it would clear cap space and get rid of 2 players we need gone and also might give a bargaining chip to resign Orlov. However I am in the camp of NO trades unless someone takes Mantha and Eller straight up and no increase in salary or loss of picks or players from Hershey. AS both the picks and players from Hershey are going to be needed the next few years in the rebuild!

      • franky619 says:

        Eller’s is gonna a great pick up for a contending team. Probably gonna play a key role in a stanley cup run. He usually raise his level of play come playoff time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why is Milano’s minutes being shortened? And now Strome today?!

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