clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Capitals vs Flyers Game 4: What Worked and What Didn't

Heading into Game 5, we take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 4.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Caps' took the ice last night with their first opportunity in franchise history to sweep a seven game series. And what a deserving foe for the distinction of being Washington's first such potential victim. Alas, it was not to be, as Michal Neuvirth stood strong in his first playoff start since 2011 and pretty much single-handedly forced a Game 5. Congratulations Caps fans, you've got Friday Night plans.

Here's a look at our breakdown from Game 1Game 2, and Game 3.

Now let's have a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 4.

What Worked

  • Chance Generation
We'll touch on this a bit more throughout this post, but the Caps did a good job generating chances on the night. After one period, they led the Flyers in high-danger scoring chances by a count of 10-1 (15-8 in all scoring chances) per War on Ice. After two that number was 13-6 (26-16), and the game ended with a thoroughly lopsided 17-8 (40-19). As silver linings go, that's not a bad one.
  • The 3rd Period
If you're not versed in the chart, understand that upward ticks are shot attempts. The Caps owned that third period, and if not for a great showing from old friend Michal Neuvirth, we're probably looking at some free hockey, at the least.
  • Power vs Power
Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie were both +10 in 5v5 shot attempts on the game, and Nicklas Backstrom was right behind them with a +9. Oshie scored the Caps only goal, had 5 individual high-danger scoring chances, and the top line looked dangerous all night. And remember, that's with Dave Hakstol, for the most part, getting to pick his troops for the matchup, and going with his top line:

That yellow in the top three rows? That's the Ovechkin line (along with Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner) against Claude Giroux's trio and those differentials are significant - the Caps outshot the Flyers 24-12 in the 12:49 of five-on-five time that both Niskanen and Giroux were out there (16-8 in Oshie's 11.5 minutes against Giroux, and so on).

What Didn't

  • Slow Starts
The first period has been a problem child for these Washington Capitals during large swaths of the season, often accompanied by the predictable note that they had allowed the first goal of the game. Such was the case tonight (as was it last night), and the underlying numbers don't do the Caps any favors either. At least they didn't until a late flurry improved the optics. But, as we've pointed out with regularity, the Flyers' philosophy seems to favor raw attempts, whereas the Caps' puts a premium on high-percentage opportunities. As we mentioned earlier, at the end of one period, the Caps were credited with ten high-danger scoring chances at 5v5, and the Flyers only with one.

Still, the scoreboard favored the bad guys after twenty in this one, and about halfway through the period the shots were an ugly 10-2. A little bit of bad habits reminiscent of the dog days of February rearing its head? Nothing to get too worked up about yet, whatever it is.

  • Special Teams
Special teams have obviously been a major component in the contour of this series to date, with the bulk of that trend easily attributed to the Caps' lethal power play. Barry Trotz made a comment to the media after Game 3 along the lines of the Flyers' giving the Capitals powerplay "plenty of practice". Such was not the case in Game 4, as the Capitals didn't get their first powerplay opportunity until 15 minutes had gone by in the 2nd period -- which the Flyers killed off without much trouble. That would be the last time (unless you count the 20 odd seconds the Caps had as a result of quickly-overlapping minors). On the other end of the ice, it was Shayne Gostisbehere breaking the clean scoresheet with a powerplay goal.

For this one, the trend reversed and the special teams battle, minimal as it was, favored the Flyers.
  • Overpassing
How many extra passes did the Caps make tonight? How many worked out? For sure this is a team that's cobbled together its fair share of highlight reel moments -- for which a goal light is generally a prerequisite-- but tonight it seemed like that trigger-puller was never at the end of the play, and too many great opportunities culminated in pucks trickling lazily out of the zone, or an open look at the net passed over for a chance at the cherry on top. Maybe this sort of chaff floats to the top as a result of a 3-0 series lead, but it quite certainly didn't work tonight.