The Washington Capitals’ woeful loss in Game Four means the team has just a tiny chance to avoid their third consecutive first round playoff elimination.
The odds are long.
Moneypuck.com puts the Caps’ chances of advancing to the second round at 14 percent.
You could consider that a charitable estimation. Dom Luszczyszyn at The Athletic puts it at just eight percent.
Looking at how the games have gone, the collapse in Washington’s fortunes shouldn’t come as a surprise. Boston’s top-six forwards have been vastly better than Washington’s.
Below, using Natural Stat Trick’s expected goals model, is how many goals (independent of goalie performance) each forward has generated this series. It’s dramatic.
Boston’s top line is basically always on attack. Washington’s most “productive” forward, Anthony Mantha, is goal-less on 16 attempts, including 7 high-danger chances. That’s a brutal cold streak for a player who began his time in Washington red-hot — and yet, for context, it’s still nowhere near Alex Semin’s franchise-worst zero goals on 44 shots in the 2010 postseason.
At the other end of the ice, Washington has blown a one-goal lead a league-high five times in these playoffs, sporting an 82-percent save percentage when protecting a one-goal lead.
But that’s not to slag on Washington’s, uh, numerous goalies (3) this series. The Caps have allowed Boston twice as many high-danger chances as they’ve generated. Washington ranks dead last in creating high-danger chances and second-to-last in preventing them (Winnipeg is doing worse).
Outside perhaps Mantha, it would inaccurate to call the Capitals snakebitten. This is not bad luck. They’re just inert — incapable of mustering neither a coherent nor sustained attack on Boston’s net.
You get to decide if that’s the product of injuries or coaching or a lack of killer instinct or un-clutch goaltending or any combination of the above, but the situation now is less ambiguous.
At 7 PM on Sunday, the Washington Capitals will host the Boston Bruins. They will not be favored to win that game. One more loss would mean Washington’s third first round exit in a row — an unbroken streak since the 2018 Cup win. And with Alex Ovechkin’s contract extension not yet signed, it could mean the end of an era.
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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