The Capitals are on the verge of playoff elimination again. For the second straight year, Barry Trotz’s Capitals team look unlikely to pass the second round, and it’s just not right.
Washington’s franchise goalie, Braden Holtby, has stopped 663 of 702 shots (all strengths) across 23 games. That is a stunning .944 save percentage, and yet Holtby has a losing record.
Washington’s penalty kill has been perfect since Game Four of the first round, shutting down 24 consecutive power plays. That is remarkable, and yet the Caps are still about to break down for the summer.
What the hell?!
The problem is scoring goals. The Capitals just haven’t been able to hit the back of the net these last two years.
There have been 16 teams who’ve played at least 300 five-on-five playoff minutes since last season. Here’s how the Capitals rank in each offensive rate stat:
|Offensive rate||Rank (out of 16)|
|High danger scoring chances||2nd|
The Capitals have done everything right. They are getting zone time (shot attempts), they’re getting shot quality (scoring chances), and they’re crashing the net (high danger). They’re just not getting the puck over the goal line.
Washington’s shooting percentage has been astonishingly bad. Evgeny Kuznetsov, for example, has one goal on 31 shots, a shooting percentage of 3.2 after a season of shooting 10.4.
The result means little to no goal support for the best playoff goalie of the last decade and endless anguish for a fan community who are already shellshocked by playoff failure.
I don’t actually have a fancy conclusion. I’m frustrated too. But this exercise has — paradoxically — granted me patience. This series won’t be lost by foolish lineup decisions, suspensions, or big mistakes by players I already didn’t like. If summer is coming, I will have little blame for Trotz, Orpik, or Weber.
The Capitals have played great. They deserve to advance, but they probably won’t. If that happens, they’ll try again next year. Roll that rock up that hill.
Additional reporting by Spenser Smallwood. Stats from War On ice.
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