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Behind The Numbers

Capitals vs. Penguins key statistics

Scoring depth, ability to convert rebounds could be determining factors in series

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

One of the most anticipated matchups of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will see Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's a battle between this season's Presidents' Trophy winner, and last season's Stanley Cup winner.

According to the numbers, this series includes two great offenses, but Pittsburgh has the added challenge of facing one of the League's best goalies.

Here are five interesting stats about this series:

 

1. Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin

A lot of the attention will be focused on the team captains, Crosby and Ovechkin, who are the two greatest offensive talents of their generation.

With seven points (two goals, five assists) in five playoff games, Crosby has scored a League-leading 181 points (82 goals, 99 assists) in 156 games since Mike Sullivan was named coach of the Penguins on Dec. 12, 2015. In that time, no other player has scored more than 160 points.

With a League-leading 44 goals in the regular season, Crosby ended Ovechkin's streak of winning the Rocket Richard Trophy at four consecutive seasons.

Ovechkin finished with 33 goals, which was one more than the career-low he set in 2010-11 and in 2012-13 (during a 48-game season). He remains just as dangerous as always with the man-advantage, where his 17 power-play goals tied Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the League lead in the regular season, and his two power-play goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs trail only Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames, who scored four.

Video: TOR@WSH, Gm5: Ovechkin lays a big hit on Gardiner

 

2. Scoring depth

Even if a team managed to shut down Crosby or Ovechkin, it wouldn't be enough to silence their respective team's offenses. Pittsburgh and Washington ranked first and third in the regular season with 278 and 261 goals, and first and second in the playoffs, with 21 and 18, respectively.

In the first round, Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins led the NHL with 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in five games, and his linemate Phil Kessel ranked third, with eight points (two goals, six assists) in five games.

On the Capitals, Ovechkin was one of four players to score three goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. He was joined by T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, and Tom Wilson. Oshie also tied Ovechkin in the regular season with 33 goals.

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm5: Kessel snipes from circle for PPG

 

3. Braden Holtby dialed in

With Matt Murray of the Penguins out with a lower-body injury sustained prior to the first game of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals could have an edge in nets.

Braden Holtby has won 131 games over the past three seasons combined, which leads the NHL by 23 over Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild, with (108).

Among the 51 goalies to have played at least 70 games over that time, his .923 save percentage is tied with Dubnyk for second, behind Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (.929).

Holtby finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting in 2014-15, first in 2015-16, and was named one of the three finalists this season.

Video: WSH@TOR, Gm6: Holtby denies Leafs' late flurry

 

4. Crashing the net

For the Penguins, the secret to beating Holtby won't be the initial shot, but picking up loose pucks in front of the net and scoring on rebounds.

Statistically, rebounds were first defined by Alan Ryder in 2004 as any shot that occurs within 25 feet of the net, within two seconds of the previous shot, and without an intervening faceoff. A count is maintained at Corsica.hockey.

In the regular season, the Penguins led the NHL with 242 rebound shots, and their 25 rebound shots in the first round ranked second to the Maple Leafs (26).

Crosby was on the ice for 106 of those rebound shots, which ranked second in the NHL to Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild (110), and Crosby's own total of 34 rebound shots ranked third behind Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks (41) and Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes (35).

 

5. The long change

In this series, it might not matter who strikes first.

In the regular season, the Penguins were 13-10-1 for a League-leading .542 winning percentage when trailing after the first period, and the Capitals were 6-7-1 for a .429 winning percentage which ranked third.

The winner is more likely to be determined in the second period, when the teams switch ends and have the long change. When leading after two periods, the Capitals had a 41-1-1 record for a .953 winning percentage that ranked second to the Calgary Flames (.971), and the Penguins had a 37-1-1 record for a .949 winning percentage that ranked third. 

 

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