1. Gone in 208 Seconds
The Caps had Game 2 in the bag... until they didn’t.
With three minutes left in the game, MoneyPuck had the Caps at 93.8 percent likely to win. Heck, at that point they had the Caps at 73 percent likely to win the whole series.
Now? Not so much.
So what happened? We’ll talk about Taylor Hall’s game-tying tally in a moment, but make no mistake about it, the Bruins were buzzing from the moment Garnet Hathaway put the Caps ahead:
BOS 4 at WSH 3— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) May 18, 2021
Bruins took over the game entirely after going down 3-2.
All game charts: https://t.co/ZO5YOAi07r pic.twitter.com/eblCBItDre
Per MoneyPuck’s expected goals model above, the Bruins had half as many expected goals (and the same number of actual ones!) in the last 13 minutes of the game as they did in the first 47.
Did the Bruins wake up or did the Caps go to sleep? Yes. And the game-winning goal was a good encapsulation of that: John Carlson’s failure to close off Taylor Hall along the boards and then find the B’s hottest scorer on the edge of the crease moments later amidst the mass of humanity accumulating around the net was everything you don’t want to see as a Caps fan:
Hall’s goal marked the third time in the series that the Caps have yielded a game-tying goal after taking a one-goal lead; the Bruins have now done it twice (both earlier in Game 2). As Peter Laviolette noted post-game, “They’re a good offensive team. We’re at our best when we’re attacking as well. We ended up picking up Game 1. They catch it late in the game and win it in overtime, and they get Game 2. So off to Boston we go, and I wouldn’t expect anything different the next couple of games.”
Maybe. But speaking of expectations, it’s worth noting that the Bruins have absolutely caved in the Caps when trailing by a goal... and when up one:
Those are five-on-five numbers. Put another way, in the 25 five-on-five minutes that this series hasn’t been tied, the Bruins have an expected goals percentage north of 80 percent, with high-danger chances favoring Boston 13-2. That’s... concerning.
The final minutes of Game 2 were a lot of things, disappointing and maddening among them. But one thing they weren’t is surprising. After all, this is how the Caps ended up where they ended up.
The Bruins have a preternatural ability to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. Or at least it seems that way. Goalie goes on an inexplicable fishing trip? Goal:
Failed clear up the middle? Goal:
Failed clear up the boards? Goal:
You’d imagine that Peter Laviolette would be preaching the importance of puck management today - the Caps turned the puck over 16 times (seven giveaways and nine Bruins takeaways) in Game 2 and a couple of those resulted in center-ice faceoffs.
3. Net Positive
Let’s end on a positive, namely Craig Anderson. The Bruins had a clear game plan in Game 2 to get more traffic in front of the Caps’ cage and boy did they. This heat map could be a still from a horror film:
Anderson, previously mentioned expedition aside, held the fort, stopping 12 of the 14 high-danger shots he faced and giving the Caps a good chance to win (for what it’s worth, the game-winner was considered a low-danger shot and the Bergeron tally medium-danger, despite the lateral passes on both, so make of that what you will).
Through two games, Anderson has given the Caps what they didn’t have all year - the Big Save:
These are tiny samples, of course (the Bergeron and Marchand goals are the only medium- and low-danger tallies, respectively, that Anderson has allowed), but, through two games, Craig Anderson has exceed any and all reasonable expectations: