Three games into this first round series, Bruins fans and Capitals fans found themselves in an interesting spot: both sides thought they’d yet to see their team’s best game.
It’s fair to say that after four games, one fanbase may have gotten a glimpse, while the other very much finds itself still waiting.
The Bruins utterly dominated the Capitals in just about every aspect of the game in Game 4, finally putting some distance between themselves and the Capitals and causing Washington a great deal of frustration in the process.
While the Bruins did the majority of their scoring on the power play, those goals overshadow the 5v5 advantage the Bruins enjoyed for the majority of the night.
To wit (per Natural Stat Trick):
- The Bruins had 21 5v5 scoring chances to Washington’s 11.
- The Bruins had 9 5v5 high-danger scoring chances to Washington’s 1 (!!!), which came in the first period.
In fact, the Bruins’ third line was the only trio that had average(ish) puck possession numbers at even strength, with Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, and Nick Ritchie all being on the ice for as many unblocked shot attempts for as shot attempts against.
Considering that trio ended up scoring a goal, you’ll take it.
The Bruins also clearly won the special teams battle, scoring three power play goals while allowing one (which was a gift off of Brandon Carlo).
The Bruins’ penalty kill deserves a great deal of credit: the Caps had seven power plays in the game, but managed just three high danger chances.
In fact, the Bruins had more unblocked PP shot attempts (11) on their five power plays than Washington had on their seven power plays (10).
Probably as a result of that frustration, the Caps kind of lost their cool on several occasions.
Anthony Mantha’s stupid running of Tuukka Rask is probably the most egregious example, as it led to a Bruins goal on the ensuing power play.
But the Caps are a team that relies on their power play to give them a boost, and when that gets stymied, the frustration starts to boil over.
If you’re a Bruins fan watching that game last night, you could be forgiven for being surprised that it was only a one-goal game for an extended period of time.
If you’re a Capitals fan, you may try to find solace in the fact that you were utterly dominated but only lost due to undisciplined penalties.
However, I’d argue that while the Bruins were great last night, they still didn’t really play their so-called “best game” yet - which is even more reason for Bruins fans to be optimistic.
For example, the Bruins’ second line was relatively quiet last night, and the Bruins weren’t able to cash in on many of the 5v5 chances, in spite of the dominance.
If they can maintain that stifling PK and turn a couple of those 5v5 chances into goals, look out.
In any case, after three tight, one-goal games, the Bruins asserted their dominance last night and landed quite a blow to the Capitals’ hopes in this series.
If they can match that effort on Sunday, the next punch may just be a knockout.