The Washington Capitals are one win away from pulling off an upset that not many predicted after defeating the Bruins 4-3 in game 5 earlier today. Just about all of their success in this series has been attributed to goaltender Braden Holtby, who has been absolutely phenomenal with a .946 save percentage. However, one thing that has been slightly overlooked is the defensive play of the Capitals as they have been able to limit the Bruins scoring chances.
They’ve been giving up a lot of shots but they’ve been forcing the Bruins to settle for soft wristers from the point with no traffic in front countless times. Washington has also done a good job of clogging up the neutral zone and not allowing the Bruins to genera much momentum at even strength. That has been the story for games 1-4, but today’s game was slightly different.
The Capitals had one of their better offensive performances today with four goals and 16 scoring chances but their defense unraveled a bit once they took a 2-0 lead and Holtby had to do his best to prevent Boston from taking the lead. He kept them in it long enough for the Caps to draw a penalty which led to Tim Thomas giving up a soft goal that ended up being the game winner.
Washington now has Boston on the ropes but they had a bit of luck on their side with this win today and will need to play a lot better than they did in the final 25 minutes. We will breakdown the rest of this game after the jump.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Washington’s chances are in red, Boston’s are in black
The Caps actually had a 13-7 chance advantage over the Bruins when they took a 2-0 lead, but then they just collapsed and surrendered six consecutive scoring chances including two goals. Holtby gave up a relatively soft goal to Johnny Boychuk in the third period but his overall play in that period was terrific. Boston was swarming the Caps for most of that period and were finally crashing the net effectively, but Holtby managed to stand his ground.
This loss really stings for the Bruins because they had plenty of chances to take the lead, but couldn’t capitalize on any of them and Benoit Pouliot ended up taking a penalty which ruined just about everything for them. To make things worse, Tim Thomas gave up an awful game winning goal to Troy Brouwer and the B’s are now on the brink of elimination. This is a very discouraging loss for Boston but they did not play a bad game and lost because of a few unlucky bounces and shoddy goaltending. The Bruins could definitely push this to seven games if they play like they did in the third period.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Mike Knuble +2
Worst EV Forward: Alex Semin & Troy Brouwer -4
Best EV Defenseman: John Carlson +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Mike Green -5
Two of the Washington goal scorers ended up being their two worst players at even strength. Semin and Backstrom have been two of Washington’s better players this series but these two were getting hammered in their own zone in today’s game. Semin has actually been surprisingly great defensively in the first four games but that definitely wasn’t the case here. Although, a lot of Washington’s top-six players were on-ice for a lot of chances in this game.
To make up for it, some of the guys in their bottom-six were producing, the most notable one being Mike Knuble who scored his first goal of the series. Ward and Aucoin were also very solid in their limited minutes.
John Carlson was a straight-up champ today. He played a lot of his minutes against Chara, Krejci and Lucic and was on ice for only three scoring chances, the fewest among Washington defensemen. Add in the fact that he started 10 of his shifts in the defensive zone, and he takes home the “Statistical Star of the Game” for me.
The statistical “goat” of the game could probably go to Mike Green for being on ice for 10 Bruins scoring chances but Dennis Wideman is a very close second.
Best EV Forward: Brad Marchand +5
Worst EV Forward: Daniel Paille -2
Best EV Defenseman: Dennis Seidenberg +6
Worst EV Defenseman: Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon & Andrew Ference
Marchand’s contributions haven’t been showing up on the scoresheet, but he’s been one of Boston’s best forwards during this series and he was fantastic in today’s game. Some other other top forwards for Boston haven’t been showing up (Krejci & Lucic being the biggest offenders) but they were very solid today at creating offense.
Seguin has been held pointless this series and he’s been under some harsh criticism from the media for “not showing up” but that hasn’t been the case at all. He has been Boston’s best forward at creating chances, the problem is that none of them are going in. It doesn’t matter what line he’s playing on (he was bumped to the third line today), Seguin has been an effective player this series but Holtby and the goal posts have been getting the better of him.
The bottom-six of Boston has been one of their stronger points, specifically their fourth line, but they didn’t have a good game today. Shawn Thornton got a lot of credit for “waking up the Bruins” when he delivered a strong hit on Matt Hendricks in the 2nd period but nothing else he did was too beneficial. He was also on ice for the Knuble goal.
On defense, it was Chara & Seidenberg running the show as they seemed to be involved with just about every play, whether it was positive or negative. Seidenberg had some trouble containing Ovechkin’s line but he made up for it with a ridiculous performance offensively.
Boston’s depth on the back-end is a bit of a problem as no other defenseman outside of Chara & Seidenberg played that well. Corvo & Zanon were doing okay with protected minutes for most of the series, but the Capitals managed to expose them a few times tonight.
Head-to-Head at five-on-five
- I said earlier that Chara & Seidenberg had trouble defending the Ovechkin line but they ended up winning that battle overall. Corvo & Zanon did get exposed a few times, though as the Caps top line took advantage of every opportunity they had against those two.
- The only matchups that Wideman & Erksine won were against Boston’s fourth line and bottom defense pairing.
|WSH||2||8:44||Semin – GOAL||4||6||19||28||70||90||6||11||14||20||30||49||5v5|
|WSH||2||5:34||Beagle – GOAL||25||26||44||52||70||83||12||17||21||30||46||55||5v5|
|EAS||2||2:39||Seidenberg – GOAL||4||6||8||20||23||70||17||19||30||33||44||46||5v5|
|EAS||2||2:11||Marchand – GOAL||4||6||22||23||42||70||6||30||37||49||55||63||5v5|
|WSH||3||16:39||Knuble – GOAL||4||6||22||23||42||70||6||11||20||21||22||30||5v5|