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Round 1 Roundup

by Gus Katsaros

I just can’t get into the detail required for the Leafs/Boston series. Aside from the emotion, there are lots of items to go over, but in regards to time, I can’t put it all together with some statistical context before this post is to go live.

I’ve managed to put some of these thoughts down in a Twitter thread.

 

Some thoughts after Game 7.

Sobering realization squandering a series lead. Leafs had 2 opportunities to put the Bruins away and they came up empty both times. They were competitive but not good enough.
They were in every aspect if this series except for a disastrous Game 2.

— Gus Katsaros🏒 (@KatsHockey) April 24, 2019

 

Let’s move on to some other first round series.

 

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Carolina Versus Washington

Who doesn’t like a good Game 7?  Well, maybe not the Leafs if it involves the Bruins. They could have used a special player.

One special player that truly loves a Game 7 is the Carolina Hurricanes captain, Justin Williams. Known as ‘Mr. Game 7’ the veteran has come up big in Game 7’s throughout his playing career – while winning three Stanley Cups with Carolina, Los Angeles and Washington.

Being a Game 7 hero is kind of like, his thing. Maybe it’s one of the reasons he scored in Game 6 to propel the Hurricanes to this one final deciding game.

Among the accomplishments of Williams playing eight Game 7’s:

  • 7-1 record
  • Shares goal scored record in Game 7’s with Glenn Anderson (7)
  • Owns the record for Game 7 points (14)

Last season, Williams donned a different shade of red, playing for the Washington Capitals and earning his third Stanley Cup.

Carolina has carried most of the bulk of play at even strength during this postseason. They rank third in expected goals at 5v5, behind the Vegas Golden Knights and the Nashville Predators.

The Canes could do much better on the power play, a woefully sore spot this postseason, having the most 5v4 minutes played, with only three goals to show for their efforts – which unfortunately mirrors the 3.01 xGF. They middle out in scoring chances (21) for the amount of 5v4 minutes they’ve enjoyed in six playoff games, and fare worse in high danger scoring chances.

One change the Hurricanes adopted this postseason was integrating Dougie Hamilton on the first unit power play on the point. He leads the team with two goals and three points. It’s probably about time, too.

Look forward to another high event game, with the Canes producing upwards of 20 scoring chances for, like they have produced in every game except for a 6-0 loss in Game 5.

An interesting twist to this series stems from the Hurricanes representing the higher shot attempt share in every game of this series, even the 6-0 loss from Game 5. This is even true when adjusting for score. The Capitals have two players with more than one playoff goal at 5v5, Brett Connolly has two and Nicklas Backstrom has three – with two more at 5v4.

Newest Capital forward, Carl Hagelin has appeared in nine career Game 7’s, sporting an 8-1 record, with the eight wins tying him for most with Brad Richards, Ray Bourque and Glenn Anderson. He could hold the lone record if the Capitals prevail. More history being written.

 

Winnipeg Power Play Futility

Before the Winnipeg Jets snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, holding a 2-1 lead with a heartbreaking 3-2 loss with mere seconds left in regulation time, they had a power play opportunity due to a puck going over the glass. The Jets had a comfortable two goal lead cut in half only five minutes earlier on a Blues power play, when Ryan O’Reilly opened the scoring for the Blues.

In 22:38 in 5v4 time during the first round series, the Jets scored two goals. Such a high powered offense and the power play scored two times at 5v4 and added another at 5v3 in 14 opportunities.

Playoff games and even series can be broken down into a few specific instances that could have changed the tide of the series. For Winnipeg it’s the power play, while St. Louis capitalized, the Jets stumbled.

Overall, Winnipeg recorded an expected goals (xGF) of two (2), for the series in 21:37 of 5v4 time, based on twelve shots on goal, 25 unblocked shot attempts and 16 scoring chances. In comparison, the Blues in 27:04 of 5v4 time generated 12 high danger scoring chances – scoring on two chances – while Winnipeg only five (5), without a goal.

The best results at 5v4 for Winnipeg was a 6-3 Game 3 win, where they earned eight minutes of power play time, without scoring a goal, but generating a series best 0.75 xGF.

Special teams weren’t very special after all.

 

San Jose 5v4 Come Through In The Clutch

Four goals on a five-minute power play in Game 7 and then winning in overtime. It doesn’t get more dramatic than that! They shattered the expected goals of 1.88, however, they also recorded a 0.25 xGA during 5v4 play. High risk, high reward, in this instance at least.

San Jose had similar issues as the Jets heading into Game 7 after a wonderful double overtime goal kept their season alive. They’ve recorded 7.05 xGF and scored four goals at 5v4, with all four goals scored from high danger scoring chances – while allowing two shorthanded markers as well. The two shorties were both due to high danger scoring chances against – the Sharks allowing players to get into those high danger areas was a concern at 5v5, and at 5v4.

This actually follows the 9.13 xGF at 5v5, while scoring only eight goals.

It’s typical of the series where the Sharks lagged with 36.2% of shot attempts share at 5v5 during the double overtime Game 6. They won the 5v5 shot share battle in Game 7, tipping the scales with a 53.9 CF% at 5v5.

Sharks Natural Stat Trick Game 6

 

San Jose did a much better job getting to the high danger areas as the series wore on. They increased their 5v5 HDCF events to a series high 12 over 61 minutes.

In the end, it took a five-minute major late in the third period of Game 7 to earn the victory. Never, ever give up, kids. There’s always a chance.

 

Calgary Versus Colorado

The Flames scored four goals at 5v5, the least amount of goals among playoff teams, over five games, tying the Penguins who played four games. Tampa Bay scored six at 5v5, if there’s any consolation.

Unlike the Bolts and Pens with one 5v4 goal, the Flames actually had decent production in 29:47 of 5v4 time, scoring five goals, bettering the 2.74 xGF. The power play couldn’t save a woeful even strength and the Flames were bounced in five games. Calgary excelled at generating chances off the rush during the regular season, as did the Avalanche. The Avs continued that trait, the Flames rushes were virtually non-existent.

Credit a lot of the offensive push from the Avalanche to Nathan MacKinnon, with eight points, and a point on 88.9% of all Avalanche goals with him on the ice. Linemate Mikko Rantanen is firing 23.8% and scoring five goals, earning points on 81.8% of on-ice goals, in all situations. He leads the Avalanche with nine points.

MacKinnon and Rantanen ran wild on the Flames, generating lots of rush scoring chances, with MacKinnon providing the zone entries and space, and Rantanen the net-front and high danger presence.

 

Avs First Line

 

There’s also one thing in that table that should appear as a warning. MacKinnon is firing 5.88 % at 5v5, scoring only once, in Game 2. If he opens up anywhere close to the 10% he was shooting during the regular season, the Vegas Golden Knights/San Jose Sharks may have a deeper problem than the Flames during Round 1.

Enjoy the beginning of Round 2. We’ll be back soon.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey