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Capitals vs Flyers Game 5: What Worked and What Didn't

Heading into Game 6, we take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 5.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The stage was set for a Friday night advancement to round two: home ice, a three games to one series lead, and coming off a third period in which the ice was quite nearly vertically tilted in favor of the Caps. That tilt carried over into Game 5, but unfortunately for the home team, so too did Michal Neuvirth's stellar play, who turned in one of the best goaltending performances in Philadelphia Flyers playoff history, carrying the team in front of him on his back to a 1-0 victory.

Here's a look at our game breakdowns from Game 1Game 2Game 3, and Game 4.

Let's take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 5.

What Worked

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By just about any qualitative measure you can name, the Caps were the better team last night (well, except of course for the one that dictates the result, of course), and by a pretty substantial mark. According to War on Ice, Washington had 34 shots at 5v5 to the Flyers' five. Shot attempts were titled to the tune of 63 to 17, and scoring chances 29 to 6. If you want to drill down even further, to high-danger scoring chances, that number was 13-4.

Despite spending fewer than half the minutes on the power play that Philadelphia did, the Caps were only outshot 5 to 4, had more shot attempts (10-8), scoring chances (5 to 4), and high-danger scoring chances (3 to 2) on the power play.

And if you're more of a visual learner, the optics are appropriately stark.


And Muneeb's possession grid.

What Didn't Work

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Let's start with this little factoid dug up by the Elias Sports Bureau after the game: the 11 shots mustered by the Flyers in Game 5 was the fewest they've ever recorded, in the regular season or in the playoffs, in the history of their franchise. Meanwhile, the Capitals 82 all-situation shot attempts were there second most on the season. They notched 83 in an April Fool's slaughtering of the Colorado Avalanche.

It's not that Braden Holtby is to blame either -- the lone non-empty net goal scored by the Flyers was an unfortunate bounce of the skate of Taylor Chorney. Holtby had no chance. The real story was in the other net. MIchal Neuvirth played out of his mind, plain and simple, and has now stopped 75 of the 76 shots he's seen since replacing Steve Mason in net.

While those of you who have not bleached your memories are likely reminded of the Spring of 2010 and Jaroslav Halak, you've also seen enough of Neuvirth from his time in Washington to understand that his bouts of strong play are flashes in the pan, and he invariably returns to the middling play that's had him in a backup role for most of his career.

This isn't Halakian...yet.

Here's Muneeb again, to help keep things in perspective.


In short, Game 5 was a tremendously well-played game by the Capitals, with a frustrating outcome. That particularly cocktail is one for which fans of hockey in the district have a low tolerance. But if you are less inclined to believe the abstract supernatural is a prime player in stymying the Caps' advancement, you're likely also able to apply reason and critical examination to arrive at the conclusion that the Washington Capitals are still very much in good shape.