Monday night the Caps fell 4-3 to the Leafs in Game Three of their first-round series. There is no silver lining on this one, no makeup for this pig. As the President’s Trophy winning team, the playoff-hardened Caps failed to meaningfully compete against a young and inexperienced squad that was in doubt to make the playoffs two weeks ago.
At 41.3 percent in five-on-five shot attempt, this game would’ve slotted in as the Caps fifth-worst possession game of the entire season. Other than a brief stretch in the second period when the Caps played fairly well and looked it too, the stats for this game were as bad as the team looked.
The series is 2-1. It’s still winnable. But it’s not winnable if the Caps continue to play like the less experienced, less structured, and less dangerous team.
need better than this pic.twitter.com/vqdouHibuY
— Pat Holden (@pfholden) April 18, 2017
The Caps were out attempted 17 to eight in five-on-five shot attempts in the third period and were a minus-six in scoring chances in that period alone, after actually going plus-two in the second. Not a winning recipe.
WSH-TOR after 3. Connolly the only Caps skater in the black. pic.twitter.com/z28hdZGF1T
— Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu) April 18, 2017
But somehow, they only played the third most five-on-five ice time of any of the Caps’ top-four lines at just over nine minutes. (Ovechkin only skated 15:03 the whole game.) Power play time or not, that isn’t enough ice time for what is without a doubt the Caps’ deadliest weapon and one of the best lines in the league at producing goals.
I’ve pored over the roster and this doesn’t feel like an appropriate designation for any Caps skater last night. If we dig really deep it could go to Dmitry Orlov, who was not on the ice for a five-on-five goal against and who somehow was plus-one in unblocked shot attempts and dead-even in scoring chances. Braden Holtby could also get the award for his diving desperation poke check on Mitch Marner, or as a consolation for being hung out to dry for 61 minutes.
As a three-game series, the Caps are playing statistically about the same against the Leafs as they did in their three games against them during the regular season. Summed together, the Caps have played just a little worse over these three games, regressing from a 53 percent possession team (at five-on-five) to a 51 percent team. We even wrote recently that some bad bounces and tough luck had played a big role in the first two games and a 1-1 series.
But last night was a different story. The Caps deserved to lose that game, and the only reason the three-game totals in the table below are even remotely close are because Game 3 wiped out the entire statistical advantage the Caps had built in the first two. The trend line is headed in the wrong direction and it doesn’t take an expert to see that if they don’t lift themselves off of rock bottom then the brave souls who put money on “Leafs in five” might stand to make a fortune.
These are the Caps five-on-five differentials (in favor the Caps if positive) against the Leafs over the regular season, the playoffs so far, and just last night.
|Metric||Regular Season Diff.||Playoff Diff.||Last Night Only|
|Unblocked shot attempts||+12||+4||-6|
|Shots on goal||+12||+7||0|
Stats courtesy of NaturalStatTrick and Corsica.Hockey.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI.
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