Photo: Amanda Bowen
The Caps somehow lost to the Flyers on Friday night in a game they dominated. Quickly, the doom and gloom takes and narratives were out in full force: Are the Caps about to “choke” again?
The fact is that the Caps dominated the hockey game. Yes, they lost. Yes, this has happened before in franchise history. But any analysis that tries to explain the primary reason of why a team lost with a 44-11 shot advantage as something other than poor luck or a hot goalie is simply post hoc and lazy.
Sure, the Caps did lose 2-0. But there does not have to be a fall guy or blame placed as to why this happened. Analysis that does that isn’t analysis of the actual hockey game; it’s analysis that starts by looking at the 2-0 final score and tries to work backwards to place blame as to why the Caps lost.
The Caps have a 3-2 series lead and just dominated the Flyers. Let’s take a deep breath and look at some visualizations of this domination.
My favorite visualization of the game comes from datarink. This is fun to watch and shows when the Caps went into rapid fire mode in the second period.
flyers — capitals pic.twitter.com/VcUKAJXRfV
— Kevin Kan (@datarink) April 23, 2016
From hockeystats.ca, here’s the shot chart from the game. There was a lot of talk about shot quality after the game and how the Caps were doomed by poor shot quality. Give me a break. As the Flyers first goal showed, simply getting the puck directed towards the net generally results in a good bounce sooner or later. For the Caps, those bounces are coming later, hopefully Sunday against the Flyers. But they took shots from everywhere:
And finally, here’s a look at the probabilities of different outcomes of the game. After all, hockey is not a game of certainty, as some opinions on last night’s game might lead you to believe. Hockey is a game of probabilities and last night the Caps lost a game that they would have won over 80 percent of the time.
Losing a game in the manner the Caps did last night is frustrating to watch. And given that we’ve seen this script before, it can be anxiety-inducing. But there need not be blame placed just because a team dominated a hockey game and lost. Hockey, like life, is strikes and gutters. Last night was gutter ball despite perfect form. Oh, well. It happens.
Onward to Game Six.
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