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Chances Are the Caps Will Close Out Series Soon

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Washington's first round series is going pretty much as expected, in aggregate, which means it'll likely be over soon

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Prior to their first-round series getting underway, much had been made about the Flyers' alleged advantage over the Caps at five-on-five, especially Philly's shot-attempt advantage over last 25 games of the regular season. But as predictive models were calling for the Flyers to pull off the upset, Caps fans remained confident, presuming that their team had enough of an edge in special teams, finishing talent and in net to overcome that notch in Philly's column (if it even belonged there in the first place).

Through four games, all of the above has been borne out, more or less. The Flyers have had the narrow advantage in five-on-five shot attempts, firing 51.3 percent of the shots (50.2 if you score-adjust, per war-on-ice.com), but the Caps have caved in the Flyers on special teams, have shot 11.5 percent overall (compared to Philly's 3.4) and Braden Holtby has been nearly unbeatable, while Dave Hakstol's club has ditched starter Steve Mason for perennial back-up Michal Neuvirth.

The result has been a 3-1 series lead for Washington that's pretty fairly reflective of the overall run of play.

But while the Flyers have taken 51.3 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, the Caps have had the more dangerous chances. Per WOI, Washington has a 43-36 edge in high-danger scoring chances at fives, and a 96-87 lead in five-on-five scoring chances overall (i.e. high- and not-as-high-danger). And who's doing the damage? Pretty much the guys you'd want doing it:

Individual Chances

Those are all the players in the series with more than five individual scoring chances through four games (yes, the top-five are Caps). Of particular note, the top-two skaters in the series in terms of individual five-on-five high-danger scoring chances - Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams - have combined for... no goals at five-a-side. Yet.

Now, some of those numbers came during the furious third-period comeback attempt in Game 4 that came up just short (Washington had a 14-3 edge in scoring chances over the final twenty minutes, 4-2 in high-danger changes), and indeed their 31-6 Corsi blitz in that final stanza narrowed the series gap in that metric considerably as well. But even accounting for score effects, what we've seen (over a small sample) is precisely what we'd thought: that even if the Flyers can outshoot the Caps, the Caps' shots - by virtue of the shooters and locations - can more than make up for the difference... and that's without considering special teams.

The Caps are now, as they were before the series, the better of these two teams. That the Flyers were able to split at home doesn't change that, and shouldn't be particularly concerning to Caps fans.