Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals
All season long, we've watched the Florida Panthers mercilessly bulldoze through their opponents, piling up goals, stretching analytical models to their limits, and making superstars out of former cast-offs. Now it's time to see whether the President's Trophy winners have what it takes to transfer that success to the grimier world of the post-season.
Stocked with the trade deadline additions Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot, there's no reason to believe that this train is coming to a stop any time soon, but the magic of the playoffs is that the unexpected happens all the time.
And why not now? The Washington Capitals have the Cup pedigree, a generational goal-scorer, reliable veterans, a shutdown bottom-six, and a heavy style that seems built to slow things down in the postseason. Even if they may not have the pieces to go all the way, who's to say they can't play spoiler and show the Panthers what it's like to win the President's trophy and head home early?
My playoff previews are stats-based, going off of both macro- and micro-level statistics gathered by TopDownHockey and AllThreeZones respectively. This allows us to look not only at high-level results (like goals, shots, and expected goals) but also at the stylistic process that creates them (like passes, shot types, and transition play) to get a better sense of how the teams match up. Instead of comparing offence to offence and defence to defence, I'll be breaking down the offence vs. defence matchups.
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