Game 5 was unkind to the Washington Capitals, who thoroughly dominated the statistics over the Philadelphia Flyers, except for, as they say, the most important one – the score, a 2-0 win for the Flyers. While such a game has been all too common in Caps playoff history and is one that fans might be tempted to crumple up and throwaway, there are some takeaways to keep. We can take a look at both.
- For a period of 16:50 spanning the second and third periods (from 9:41 into the second period to the 6:31 mark of the third period) the Caps held the Flyers without a shot on goal. In fact, the Caps held the Flyers to just three shots on goal in the final 30:19 of the game, and one of those shots on goal was an empty net goal.
- The second line, which has been largely quiet in this series, did manage five shots on goal and 13 shot attempts. It would have been nice if they had points, but they were active in ways that were intermittently present in the first four games.
- Braden Holtby has not allowed more than two goals in a game in this series, a streak that stands at six games going back to his last regular season appearance. Of goalies logging at least 100 minutes of ice time so far in the postseason, he is third in both goals against average (1.01) and save percentage (.961).
- Game 5 was the six time in his career that Alex Ovechkin recorded eight or more shots on goal and did not score a goal. In four of the previous five instances he did not record a goal in his next game, either, but the one in which he did was the one previous to this one, a goal in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their first-round series last season.
- Teams winning the first three games of their first round playoff series in NHL history, the first of those wins on home ice, have a series record of 49-2 (source: whowins.com). Keeping saying it over and over…forty-nine-and-two…forty-nine-and-two…
- In Games 6 after losing Game 5 at home, the Caps have an all-time record of 4-6. Yeah, not much meat on that bone to gnaw on.
- Michal Neuvirth is the only goalie in Flyer history over the last 25 years to face more than 35 shots in a playoff game and record a shutout. Seriously?
- The Flyers have the worst scoring offense of any of the 16 playoff teams (1.20 goals per game). They have the third-worst power play (4.8 percent). They have the second-worst penalty kill (63.6 percent). No team has fewer goals at 5-on-5 (three). They have allowed the second-most shot attempts per 60 minutes (65.9; numbers from war-on-ice.com). Yeah, and how is that working out so far?
- About that second line. There is being more active, and there is being more productive, and it hasn’t been. One goal (Evgeny Kuznetsov), two assists (both by Justin Williams), 14 penalty minutes. As a group (including Andre Burakovsky, who is without a point in this series), they are shooting 1-for-36 (2.8 percent).
- If the Caps lose Game 6, the skies will darken quickly. Eight times in franchise history they lost a Game 6 to force a Game 7. Six times, they lost that ensuing Game 7.
In the end…
There were a couple of object lessons for the Capitals in playoff games played on Saturday. In one, there was an example of a team taking care of business in a cold, methodical fashion as the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the New York Rangers in rude fashion, 6-3. In the other, the Chicago Blackhawks, facing elimination, fell behind the St. Louis Blues by a 3-1 margin after the first period, then roared back to win going away, 6-3, to force a Game 7. One team shoveled dirt on another’s playoff hopes, the other clawed their way out of a hole to extend their own hopes. The Caps need to find some of whatever it was that the Penguins and the Blackhawks were drinking and include it in their morning meal.
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