1. Per WhoWins, through the 2016 World Series (stay with me), teams with home-ice/-field/-court advantage in best-of-seven series that have gone 311-58 (.843) when posting a 3-2 lead in the series. Overall, teams that have gotten to a three-games-to-two lead have posted a 606-157 (.794) win percentage. You get the point - the Caps have an awfully good chance, based on historical data, to win this series, even if it doesn’t happen tonight - NHL teams have only closed out 111 of 214 (.519) series in road Game 6s. And while the Caps did so the last time they had a chance to (a year ago tomorrow in Philly), prior to that? Not so much...
Of course, history isn’t playing, the Caps and Maple Leafs are (and the Caps haven’t exactly gone by the book on expectations in the past anyway). But hopefully this series heads into the history books later tonight. After all, Toronto bench boss Mike Babcock has plans:
"See you in a couple days."— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) April 22, 2017
Mike Babcock said this to every staff-member at Verizon Center as he walked to the team bus.
Here, coach, let us help you with that:
2. Just how close has this series been? The Caps have a 3-2 series lead (with four games decided in overtime) and have outscored the Leafs 16-15. Toronto has an impossibly small 296-294 edge in overall shot attempts, Washington has a 214-213 margin in unblocked shot attempts, and the Leafs hold a 150-147 advantage in shots on goal and a 42-40 edge in scoring chances, per Corsica.Hockey. Just about the only place on the stat sheet where there’s a meaningful discrepancy between the clubs is special teams, where the Caps have gone 5-for-15 (33.3%) and the Leafs just 3-for-17 (17.6%).
These games have been coin flips and there’s no reason to think Game 6 won’t be as well.
3. Speaking of close calls...
Babcock: "Polak's done for year, our bench thought it should have been a major & they thought it (was) no penalty. That's the playoffs."— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) April 22, 2017
Babcock on the Kadri hit on Ovechkin: "Trotzy probably thought it should be a major, but I thought it should be no penalty."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 22, 2017
Every player, team and fan base sees what it wants to in every questionable hit, so do yourself a favor and seek out neutral (and not just theoretically neutral) third parties to help check your own biases. Oh, and needless to say, Babcock’s wrong on both hits here... says the Caps fan.
4. Bonus! Congrats to Braden Holtby on being revealed as a Vezina finalist - it’s well-deserved recognition for a season in which he was probably better than he was a year ago, when he won the award. Ironically, he’s probably less likely to capture the trophy this time around, but that’s okay - he’s got his sights set on something bigger.