Preview: Game #43 Leafs @ Capitals – Playoff clinching scenarios

We’ve had some content on the site today so another short preview today with just the general numbers. In the second half of a back-to-back, Ben Scrivens gets the start against the stronger offence. I like that move, giving the start to the backup against the stronger opponent in a back-to-back. There’s some aspect of gaming the schedule there: the Devils can’t score, so get Reimer up against them and limit them to two or fewer goals almost certainly. Do that and you’ve got at least one win.

Now, Washington has the stronger offence when compared to the Devils, but they’re weaker defensively. They lead the Southeast Division with 48 points… five below the Leafs. The Caps are 5th in the Conference in goals scored but are 8th in goals against.

The Capitals also have Alexander Ovechkin, who’s been playing pretty well lately, I’ve been told.

Broadcast Info:


Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EDT

By The Numbers:

  Washington Toronto
Corsi Tied % 49.3% (19th) 45.6% (25th)
5v5 GF/GA Ratio 1.04 (12th) 1.12 (9th)
Team Shooting % 8.62% 10.77%
Team Save % 0.925 0.925
Team PDO 1.011 1.033

Special Teams:

  Washington Toronto
PP Success 25.5% (1st) 18.5% (14th)
5v4 GF/60 9.53 (1st) 6.26 (14th)
5v4 SF/60 47.4 (15th) 44.7 (20th)
PK Success 76.1% (29th) 88.0% (3rd)
4v5 GA/60 7.55 (28th) 4.36 (3rd)
4v5 SA/60 62.4 (30th) 39.8 (5th)

Starting Goalies:

  EV SV% Quality Start Rate Starts Quality Starts
Braden Holtby 0.929 50.00% 30 15
Ben Scrivens 0.921 62.50% 16 10

Numbers via Hockey Analysis and


From the Washington Post:

Coach Adam Oates reunited franchise pillars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the same line for the first time since the first week of the season, even though the Capitals’ bench boss now insists he can’t recall why he thought it was a good idea to put the struggling players together.

“Can’t really remember exactly what the decision was,” Oates said recently. “Just probably looking for a spark.”

He got one. In the 17 games since the change, Ovechkin and Backstrom have once again been Washington’s dynamic duo, combining for 49 points and 21 of the team’s 57 goals and leading the charge in a 13-3-1 run up the Eastern Conference standings.

It’s amazing what happens when you put good players with other good players. Typically, the good players get better. I don’t believe in “chemistry” so much as I believe in “synergy”, the idea that two players who have success at similar ends of the ice are better off playing together.

For me, that’s why I think a player like Nazem Kadri excels with a player like Matt Frattin (Corsi with: 51.2%) rather than Nik Kulemin (Corsi with: 45.9%). It’s not that Kulemin is a bad player, it’s just that his strengths lie in a different zone. Kulemin has some talent, but he isn’t that aggressive forechecking buzzsaw that Frattin needs to be to keep an NHL job. Kulemin is more patient and does his best work in the neutral zone. Maybe that’s chemistry.

Also, for all the talk about the chemistry Phil Kessel has with Tyler Bozak, I’d be more convinced that if Kessel didn’t get more points when away from Bozak than he did with him. Maybe he just has better chemistry with other players. (David Johnson went and wrote about Bozak again today)

Last couple of times the Leafs played the Capitals, Ovechkin played on a line with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb, and on another with Mike Ribeiro and Wojtek Wolski. Hmm, I wonder why he wasn’t scoring more…

Washington Lines:

This is what they had last time out via Left Wing Lock:

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Marcus Johansson
Martin Erat – Mike Ribeiro – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti – Jay Beagle – Matt Hendricks

Karl Alzner – Mike Green
John Erskine – John Carlson
Jack Hillen – Steve Oleksy

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

Aaron Volpatti is your face-puncher candidate on the night.

Again, it’s useless posting Leafs lines. My theory on Carl Gunnarsson being out last night is that he’s still hurt and the coaching staff don’t want to put any pressure on him. Good idea, make sure he’s healthy for the playoffs, since he may be the team’s most important defenceman. Without him, you only have one good pairing. With him, you can have two.

I liked Jake Gardiner with Dion Phaneuf last night and bet they see the ice together again. If Randy Carlyle has a reputation for punishing mistakes, will Ryan O’Byrne be held out of the lineup for taking three minor penalties against the Devils? I’d like to see Mike Kostka get back into the lineup and shake off some cobwebs.

New Feature: Playoff Clinching Scenarios

Team Remaining Points Max Points
5. Toronto 6 53 65
6. Ottawa 7 48 62
7. NY Islanders 6 47 59
8. NY Rangers 7 46 60
9. Winnipeg 6 44 56

So, uh, Toronto could clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win and a Jets loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That would give the Leafs 55 points, and maximum 54 for the 9th place team. You don’t even need to root against the Rangers or Islanders tonight for this to happen.

And I’ll admit I was wrong. The regression did not happen after 48 games. I will refine the model for the next lockout-shortened season…

  • MaxPower417

    Looks like it will come down to special teams. The Caps have a fantastic PP and a terrible PK. I really think Toronto has been leaning too heavily on their PK recently, eventually they are going to start going in. The Caps and that always dangerous OV one-timer could really break that streak in an ugly fashion.

    On the flip side, the Leaf PP could do some real damage against the weak Washington PK.