Caps are down, but not out, after Game 5 loss


Not going to sugarcoat it: Losing Game 5 is bad, especially for the lower seed like the Capitals. It means having to go against the odds, where the higher seed has a 42-13 record in the series. It means winning two in a row, including Game 7 on the road, to stave off elimination.

It doesn’t mean the Caps are out of it.

Historically, the lower seed has a 28-27 record in second-round Game 6s, indicating the Capitals should be slightly favored in their home barn Wednesday night. Plus, Washington has won at home and then on the road in its next game eight times in the regular season and once more in the playoffs, so a win Wednesday to knot the series 3-3 and then a Game 7 win in Madison Square Garden is not out of the question.

Plus, the Caps were never out of Game 5, despite what the official shot totals may have indicated. Period after period, Washington was either ahead or tied with the Rangers in scoring chances. Scoring chances are clear plays directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area, loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dot. The Rangers peppered Holtby with shots, but most were either benign 60 footers or phantom tip-ins, of which MSG is notorious for overcounting.

Game 5
PeriodChances forChances againstShots forShots against
142417
27769
355810
OT0202
Totals16161838

And lastly, sometimes you believe in the stats and sometimes you believe in the players. Braden Holtby makes it easy to do both. After a playoff loss, Holtby is 5-0 with a .959 save percentage, which should be good enough to stop a Rangers offense that needed an accidental double-minor by Joel Ward (who had taken just two penalties since mid-February) to win the game.

The Capitals may be down, but they are not out.

Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg | Scoring chances

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.

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