Photo: Amanda Bowen
The Caps somehow lost to the Flyers on Friday night in a game they dominated. Quickly, the doom and gloom takes and narratives were out in full force: Are the Caps about to “choke” again?
The fact is that the Caps dominated the hockey game. Yes, they lost. Yes, this has happened before in franchise history. But any analysis that tries to explain the primary reason of why a team lost with a 44-11 shot advantage as something other than poor luck or a hot goalie is simply post hoc and lazy.
Sure, the Caps did lose 2-0. But there does not have to be a fall guy or blame placed as to why this happened. Analysis that does that isn’t analysis of the actual hockey game; it’s analysis that starts by looking at the 2-0 final score and tries to work backwards to place blame as to why the Caps lost.
The Caps have a 3-2 series lead and just dominated the Flyers. Let’s take a deep breath and look at some visualizations of this domination.
Flyers forward Brayden Schenn had already delivered a series full of questionable hits. During Game Four, Schenn stepped his troll game up another notch, using his stick as a weapon.
The hubbub occurred late in the second period. Second line forward Justin Williams centered a pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov in front of the net. Kuznetsov took a few whacks at the puck in the crease before Michal Neuvirth froze the puck. That’s when Schenn arrived on the scene to deliver a cross-check after the whistle.
It was a dangerous play.
Being responsible for an aesthetically pleasing Instagram account can be a difficult task, so we’ve got to commend Mike Richards for trying. Unfortunately, trying is not the same as succeeding.
Recently, the Caps forward set his profile to public, allowing fans to take a closer look at his glamorous life. Wait… I’m getting confused with Alex Ovechkin’s Instagram. Richards’ is just filled with pictures of fish and dogs. Oh, and two championship rings,
with a third to add to the collection after this postseason. So, only a little glamorous.
Photo: Patrick Smith
Tom Wilson almost made it through a Caps-Flyers game without getting involved in something foolish. But with six minutes and 51 seconds left in a one goal playoff hockey game, Wilson decided to board defenseman Andrew McDonald. It was an obvious penalty.
Thankfully for Wilson, Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers in regular season goals (32), decided a late game comeback push was the perfect time to retaliate. Simmonds took a roughing penalty before he and Wilson decided to punch each other in the face, negating any advantage for Philly when they needed it most.
Photo: Amanda Bowen
On Monday, we published a smart and layered discussion by Myan Tran about Tom Wilson‘s development. That article comes after months of discussion among the RMNB staff on the same topic. That article and those discussions all seemed to revolve around the idea of a bust, a delightfully subjective and nebulous term that is also a function of expectations that vary based on whom you ask.
In a beautifully complex world of fractal mathematics and ASOIAF conspiracy theories, a yes/no debate about a divisive player is excessively stupid. The conversation quickly wanders off topic and into a battlefield. GIFs are deployed like explosive ordnance. Proxy wars are waged by strawmen.
But I come to you from above the fray to settle, once and for all, the Tom Wilson bust debate.
On Wednesday night, the Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout. That game carried extra weight as those teams are likely to face one another in the first round of the playoffs: Washington as the one seed, Philadelphia as the eight.
On Thursday afternoon, esteemed hockey data visualization person Micah McCurdy released the startlingly pretty graph you see excerpted above. It shows first-round match-ups and each team’s likelihood to advance past that round and beyond.
Micah’s model has the Capitals facing the Flyers — and losing — in the first round. Sorta.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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