A picture is worth a thousand Corsi or something...
Here's a few graphs that tell a few of the stories of the Isles and Caps seasons, and let us take some guesses at what might go down over the course of the series. (All charts are from the always awesome war-on-ice.com. Each represents the rolling 10-game average for the stat in question. Numbers are score adjusted for even strength, all for special teams and goaltending)
Play at Even Strength
The Isles and Caps played 3 of 4 games very close this year. And when you look at the teams down the stretch, they seem pretty close.
Fenwick For % of Total
As you can see, the Caps never reached the dizzying heights the Isles did in the first half of the season, and also had a couple of 10 game stretches where they sat below water-something that didn't happen to the Isles. Despite the Isles struggles toward the end of the season, they ended up on virtually the same note as the Caps, though the teams were headed in different directions.
Fenwick Against per 60 Minutes of Play
This is the stat a lot of Isles fans are, and probably should be concerned with. This is how many unblocked shots each team is allowing, per 60 minutes of play. The Isles spent the fair part of the year somewhere in the mid 30s range, but of late have been up above 40 with regularity. As we saw earlier, we're still winning the possession battle, but when you increase the number of events, you increase chances for getting unlucky. I'm not sure this is something that will change drastically in the playoffs, and it could be the Isles undoing.
Fenwick For per 60 Minutes of Play
This is the Isles bread and butter. We get pucks at the net. And we've been much better at it than the Caps for most of the season. Holtby is a good goalie, so we're going to need to keep this up, and increase the chances of getting ugly goals.
A lot is being made of the Caps deadly power play, vs the Isles inept penalty kill. But do the success percentages really tell the whole story?
The Caps take a lot of penalties. Only five teams committed more minors than them this year. The Islanders do not take a lot of penalties. Only four teams committed less minors than them this year. The Capitals took 70 more minors than the Isles on the season-nearly on per game.
The Islanders are also better at drawing penalties, landing on the power play 30 more times than Washington. However, this did even out toward the end of the year. (It's funny to note in both penalty charts that the referees are also priming themselves for the playoffs, calling far fewer penalties as we near the season's end.)
Fenwick Against per 60 minutes - Short-handed
The Caps have been a mediocre PK team all year, killing 81% and finishing up 14th on the season. They've also been remarkably consistent. The Islanders PK struggles have been much discussed, but the reality is it has gotten consistently stronger as the season has gone on. The Isles PK has been ninth in the NHL in FA/60 since February 1 and seventh since March 1. The Caps have relied on their goaltending to kill penalties, finishing fifth worst on the season in FA/60, third worst since February 1.
Fenwick For per 60 Minutes of Play - Power Play
This is why the power play is the Caps bread and butter. They pile shots at the net on the power play. They put up 90.4 FF/60 on the season, leading the league by a fairly wide margin. The Isles averaged 74.6 FF/60 on the season, which placed them in the middle of the pack.
All of that said, if we follow the numbers closely, the Caps power play may not make or break this series as so many think. The Isles do not take a lot of penalties, and the Caps do. On volume alone, the Islanders may be able to match the Caps power play output over a playoff series. If the Isles penalty kill truly has improved, special teams could actually spin into the Islanders' favor.
I have nothing to say here. Goalies are weird.
On-ice Save %
Lot of ins, lot of outs here. It should be a fun series to watch, but the teams are pretty tight, so pray to Bossy and make your sacrifices. Everything counts.