Game 4 in the playoff series between the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers is one that Caps fans hope they do not look back on with the same wistful memory expressed in the last lines of the poem, “Maud Muller,” by John Greenleaf Whittier…
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”
The Capitals had a chance to write new history in Game 4 with a win for a series sweep, what would have been the first in franchise history in a best-of-seven series, but that history waits for another day. For now, we can address the takeaways and throwaways of Game 4.
- Washington was 60.7 percent to the good in Corsi-for at 5-on-5 overall, and their scoring chances were similarly dominant – 37-19 overall and 17-8 in high-danger scoring chances. They had a 10-1 advantage in high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 in the first period, averaging a little more than one every other minute at fives (numbers from war-on-ice.com).
- John Carlson saw his power play goals streak end at three in Game 4, but he remains a force. He had five shots on goal to lead the team, 11 shot attempts (also leading the team), two hits, and a takeaway. He still leads all defensemen in the playoffs in points, power play points, is tied for the lead in goals, and he is doing it while logging more than 24 minutes a game. If there was an “all-tournament team” for the playoffs so far, he might get one of the defenseman slots.
- Andre Burakovsky was robbed of a goal by Michal Neuvirth in the third period, but the takeaway was not the scoring opportunity snuffed out as much as Burakovsky’s offensive assertiveness, which had been lacking in the first three games. He finished with four shots on goal, eight shot attempts. He added a couple of takeaways in his 15:28 of ice time.
- Including Game 1 of this series, the Caps are 21-5 in games following a loss this season (the losses include three in extra time). In those games, they outscored their opponent on average by a 3.15 – 2.00 margin.
- Among goalies having faced at least 50 shots so far in the postseason, Braden Holtby is still first in goals against average (1.00) and first in save percentage (.966), first in save percentage when the Caps are shorthanded (.955), and second in even-strength save percentage (by 968, by rounding to Brian Elliott’s .968). Going back to the regular season, he has allowed two or fewer goals in 11 of his last 15 games, one or no goals nine times.
- About that Corsi-for number. First period slow starts continue to bedevil the Caps. On top of allowing the first Flyer power play goal of the series, they had just a 21-20 edge in Corsi-for at 5-on-5 (numbers from war-on-ice.com).
- Michal Neuvirth had a fine game. He deserved the number one star. But, is it a trend? In his last four games, going back to the regular season, he alternated games with a save percentage over .920 and a save percentage under .890. He has been really good or not really good lately. And, in his last seven road games his save percentage is a less-than-sparkling .897.
- The Caps were 0-for-2 on the power play after going 8-for-17 over the first three games. Call it a course correction, but it might just be a bump on the road. The Caps were 18-9 in games in which they had two or fewer power play opportunities this season (losses included those in extra time), 38-17 in games in which they had three or more man-advantages.
- Alex Ovechkin had only two shots on goal. That’s not his sweet spot. Only once this season in 13 games in which he recorded two or fewer shots did he score a goal (January 17th, a goal on two shots in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers). In the 13 games he played following one with two shots or fewer recorded, he scored goals in seven of them.
- The top line for the Flyers finally broke through with their first points of the series. Well, two thirds of it. Claude Giroux had an assist, and Wayne Simmonds had assists on both Flyer goals in Game 4. Jakub Voracek didn’t skate with his former linemates, having been replaced by Brayden Schenn (who had an assist on the Flyers’ power play goal). Still, those four players will take a combined two points at even strength into Game 5.
In the end…
Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images