Caps Outsider Roundtable: Caps/Hurricanes Predictions

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Posted April 10, 2019

Kuzy is ready! (Caps Outsider)

Barbara Banks

Predicting the outcome in any Caps playoff series can be tough since their playoff history dictates that they can be quite unpredictable.  When they won the Presidents’ Trophy and were thought to easily win the cup, they fell devastatingly short.  Although they won their division last year, the season had been roller coaster ride for players and fans. This season had its ups and downs as well and, by the regular season’s end, had virtually become a mirror image of the last.  So, can they fulfill T.J. Oshie’s “back to back” prophesy? Well, first they have to beat the Hurricanes.  The Caps have to come out swinging with the urgency that former Caps coach Barry Trotz instilled in them without complacency just because it’s the Hurricanes and not the Blue Jackets or the Penguins.  With that, I think the Caps will win the first series in six, but it won’t be easy.  Every team will be gunning to eliminate the Stanley Cup Champs. The Caps can take nothing for granted.

Caps in 6

Brad Davis

The Hurricanes are one of the premier darlings of the analytics community. They were also one of the NHL’s hottest teams over the second half of the season to secure their first playoff berth in almost a decade. In fact, they are typically a team that the Capitals really struggle to deal with. However, this year, the Caps swept the four-game season series. I fully expect the Canes to steal a game or two in this series, but we are about to see what Washington can do when they are proven winners who know what it takes to get it done. It wouldn’t be the Caps without a few scares, but this series should be wrapped up in six games. The Canes will have their moment, but that time is not the present.

Caps in 6

Cory Lyons

This will be a series of who scores first will win the game. Both teams play well with leads and while the Capitals are defending cup champs, Carolina is one of the hottest teams entering the post season. With all the hype around the Hurricanes, they will be a tough opponent, especially in Carolina. Depth will be the deciding factor while I believe the Capitals have currently.

Caps in 6

Ben Sumner

By every metric that I can see, the Capitals should easily be able to dismantle the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. That said, it’s never that easy, no matter what the stats say. Even when the Caps beat the Golden Knights in the Finals last year, the 4-1 series was no cakewalk. But I won’t make a prediction on the fact that things don’t always turn out like they’re supposed to, but I will predict this: The Hurricanes will put up a huge fight, as Justin Williams is a born winner and won’t go down easily. But… the Caps will anticipate this and we’ll see an extremely hard-fought series where the Caps win, 4-1, in very close games.

Caps in 5

Max Wolpoff

The Carolina Hurricanes will go as far as Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney will take them. Considering their first opponent has Alex Ovechkin on its offense, that will not be very far. Carolina’s centers do not match up well against the likes of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, and Nic Dowd. While young and talented, Carolina will have to wait another year to get out of round one.

Caps in 5

Andy Wallace

This series is one of the most interesting series in the first round, in my opinion, because I’ve seen more predictions favor the Hurricanes than the Capitals. In four games against the Hurricanes, the Capitals only took the advantage in slot shot attempts in one of those games and that was a barn burner 6-5 win in the shootout. The Hurricanes HDCF%, defined by Natural Stat Trick as the percentage of total High Danger Scoring Chances in games that team played that are for that team, in their three other games against us was 57.75%. This means that almost 3/5ths of all the dangerous events in the game were in favor of our first round opponent. To further put that value into perspective, the Vegas Golden Knights led the league in HDCF% with 55.82%. Also, only 31.43% of regular season games saw a team dominate as much as the Hurricanes did.

However, I think as time has gone on we have all realized that the Caps are not a volume team and that they play a style of hockey that sees them giving up those dangerous shots on a nightly basis. The Capitals are a team that survives off of the prolific finishing ability of their forwards. Washington finished second in the league in shooting percentage, behind who else but Tampa Bay, at 11.00%. Regression has always been the looming term that follows the Caps, but at some point, you have to accept that they slightly perform above the rest of the league for a reason other than luck. Carolina on the other hand, shot a lowly 8.61%, therefore the offensive touch clearly favors the Caps where the offensive volume clearly favors the Canes.

This series is so close that Micah McCurdy, of hockeyviz.com, has them dead even at a 50/50 chance of winning through all of his simulations. One glimmer of hope is that Holtby can stand on his head while the Caps are floundering in their own zone and getting peppered with shots. That, to me, will be the game changer. As much as we all want to say that we have a clear advantage in net, the stats say otherwise. Petr Mrazek had a .914 save percentage and a 4.51 GSAA (goals saved above average, what they were expected to save), Curtis McElhinney has a .912 save percentage and a 2.25 GSAA, and Braden Holtby had a .911 save percentage and a 1.79 GSAA. (all stats courtesy of Hockey Reference). The advantage in goal is a toss-up.

I think this series can go either way and is way closer than most Caps fans perceive simply because of the regular season dominance we had against them. All of this being said, I still believe that the Caps, if properly disciplined and consciously aware in their own zone, can take this series, but not easily.

Caps in 6

Philip Van der Vossen

We are the Champions…. of the World!

Caps in 4