The Washington Post

For Caps, it’s simple: Just shoot the puck

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
Game 10.950-3Loss
Game 20.975-32Win
Game 30.840-1Loss
Game 40.977-43Win
Game 50.935-13Win
Game 60.8856Loss

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.

Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg | Caps scoring chances

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

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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