STATISTICAL ANALYSIS | The Boston Bruins are the only team in NHL history that have won three Game 7s en route to the Stanley Cup championship. The Washington Capitals, on the other hand, are 2-7 overall in Game 7s, including a woeful 0-4 when they have led the series three games to two. But the past is the past, and when the puck finally drops in Boston for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Capitals have a chance to win — if they start putting pucks on net.
In every game but Game 6 the Capitals have lost the puck possession battle as measured by Corsi +/-, firing a series total of 255 even-strength shots at net (including goals, saved, missed and blocked) to Boston’s 341. Further to this, fewer than half of even-strength scoring chances have gone in Washington’s favor as well.
|EV Sv%||Corsi +/-||Result|
The difference has been Braden Holtby, who is sporting a 2.18 goals against average and .935 save percentage, both better than his regular season numbers. His 44 saves in Game 4 were the most by a rookie in a regulation playoff game since Montreal’s Ken Dryden stopped 46 shots in 1971. But the young goaltender is starting to slip. Holtby’s even-strength save percentage the last three games has gone from .977 to .935 to .885.
As we have seen during this past regular season, weak puck possession supported by strong goaltending often leads to more losing than winning. That means the skaters — especially the top six forwards — need to step up tonight. Only Nicklas Backstrom (plus-2) is in the black when it comes to Corsi. Troy Brouwer (minus-50), Alex Ovechkin (minus-41) and Alexander Semin (minus-15) all need to start tilting the ice in Washington's favor, as do blueliners Mike Green (minus-42), John Carlson (minus-25) and Dennis Wideman (minus-22). Even Karl Alzner, who has been regarded as one of the best defensemen in this series, is in the red with a minus-36.
If the Caps want to buck history and exorcise their Game 7 demons, it all starts with putting pucks on net.
More on the Capitals:
— Interactive graphic: Caps-Bruins, shot by shot
— Bruins focus on staying mentally tough
— Caps want to take advantage of wear and tear
— On Hockey: Keys for the Caps in Game 7
— Boswell: TD Garden may be a haunted house
— Caps enter Game 7 as a confident bunch