NHL Stanley Cup Round 1 Eastern Conference Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Washington Capitals

Well, they only bloody went and did it didn’t they? A group of very good rookies have apparently made it so that #TheLeafsAreActuallyGood, and they make the playoffs after a great first year for many talents.

Their reward? The league leaders.

Oh.

Eastern Conference Round One
Toronto Maple Leafs Vs Washington Capitals
Standings
14th League 1st
8th Conference 1st
4th Division 1st
2nd Wildcard Seeding 1st Metropolitan
Season Record
40-27-15 95pts Overall 118pts 55-19-8
251 Goals For 263
242 Goals Against 182

 

Apparently, the Leafs being #actuallygood involves them finishing under .500, but who am I to argue with the esteemed Toronto media?

Anyway, the kids have been fun, and they’re going to be really really good very soon, but this year, they’re straight up against the best defence, the third-best attack, and a Capitals side who look head and shoulders above the rest.

Record versus opponent
60 71 10 All-time 71 60 10
0 0 0 Playoffs 0 0 0
1 1 1 2016/17 2 1 0

These two have never met in the playoffs before, so we’re getting a little piece of history. The Caps took the season series, and have the advantage overall.

Scoring Leaders
Auston Matthews 40 Goals 33 TJ Oshie
Alex Ovechkin
Mitch Marner 42 Assists 63 Nicklas Backstrom
Auston Matthews 69 Points 86 Nicklas Backstrom
Auston Matthews 279 Shots 313 Alex Ovechkin
Connor Brown 14.4 Shot % 23.1 TJ Oshie

 

The Leafs have very good kids, but they also only have nine players who have ten or more goals, with 12 managing to break 20 points. Compare this to the Caps, who have 11 10+ scorers, five of whom have 20 goals or more, while 14 players have 20+ points.

Shoutout to Kevin Shattenkirk, who has 14 points in 19 games since being traded from St Louis. The guy wants to get paid.

Even Strength Team Possession (via corsica.hockey)
Unadjusted SZV Adjusted
CF% FF% CF% FF%
Toronto 50.40 49.78 51.25 50.53
Washington 51.81 51.46 53.24 52.81
Unadjusted Possession Leaders (ES, min 200 minutes)
CF% FF%
D F D F
Toronto Connor Carrick (52.86) William Nylander (52.52) Jake Gardiner (51.41) William Nylander (52.26)
Washington Matt Niskanen (54.43) Andre Burakowski (55.34) Kevin Shattenkirk (56.20) Justin Williams (54.11)

Washington are the third-best possession team in the league. Toronto…aren’t. Both sides have a tendency to take their foot off the gas while ahead, but Toronto do it to a higher degree.

Of those who have played more than 200 minutes, only four Capitals are negative possession players. Good luck, Leafs.

Special Teams
Power Play Penalty Kill
% Rank % Rank
Toronto 23.8 2nd 82.5 10th
Washington 23.1 4th 83.8 7th
PPG For SHG Against PPG Against SHG For
Toronto 58 7 44 6
Washington 57 3 44 5

Two high-end power plays go head to head here, with two top-ten penalty kills to boot. Neither team will want to go shorthanded often, because the opposition is well-armed to take advantage.

Goaltending
Toronto Washington
Frederik Andersen Curtis McElhinney Braden Holtby Philipp Grubauer
5v5 Sv% 92.71 92.73 93.65 93.98
5v5 HDSv% 82.74 84.96 82.22 83.70
All Sits Sv% 91.77 91.72 92.49 92.65
All Sits HDSv% 82.12 85.71 80.78 82.55

 

The status of Andersen is up in the air after he was taken out by the most cheapest of shots from Tom Sestito, so Curtis McElhinney might be your starter. Womp.

Meanwhile the Caps have two reliable goaltenders, who should win this battle.

Prediction

 

Washington aye? Aye. This is going to be a learning experience for the Leafs.

The winner gets Columbus or Pittsburgh. Caps/Pens? Yes please.

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