Photo: Justin K Aller
The Caps have their first must-win game of the season on Saturday night against the Penguins. Down 3-1, the Caps have to win three straight against one of the best teams in the league (granted, the Caps are also in that group) or else their season will be over.
If this series hasn’t driven home the point that the margin for error in the playoffs is razor-thin and sometimes a few bad bounces (like a goal off a player’s back, for crying out loud) can make a world of difference, nothing will. Have the Caps looked dominant? Absolutely not. But have they more than held their own and are down 3-1 in part because hockey can be cruel and unjust? Oh yes.
Here’s a look at the score-adjusted, 5-on-5 numbers for the Caps and Pens through four games.
|Team||Goals||Shots on Goal||Shot Attempts||Scoring Chances||High-Danger Scoring Chances|
What the deuce, guys?
Sure, I hear those of you saying “stats don’t tell the whole story.” But they certainly tell enough of the story to say this: a team that has 52.1 percent of the shot attempts, as well as an advantage in scoring chances and shots on goal, but is outscored 11-7 at 5-on-5 is the victim, to some extent, of bad luck.
This doesn’t mean the Caps should be winning the series or that the Penguin are inferior and only winning because of luck. But it does show that the Caps have done a lot right in this series.
The Caps have played well but trail 3-1. Both of these things can be true at the same time.
Let’s take a look at the matchups, courtesy of Muneeb.
Disclaimer: The Caps rapid-fire, pew-pew-pew effort in Game Three skews these numbers a bit, since it’s only a four game sample. But, you can also check out the numbers with Game Three removed.
There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Caps chances of getting back in this series. They have not played badly and poor luck has definitely played a part in them looking at a 3-1 series deficit.
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