After Game 2 the title of my article was, “The swatter of pucks saved our sorry butts.” Would it be lazy writing to want a mulligan on that one? In that game I was referring to the last 15 minutes of the third period. If that were to be the title of today’s article, it would be referring to the first 60:00 of the game.
The purpose of advanced analytics is to determine the almost imperceptible differences in a game. To tell a deeper story than just your eyes alone can manage. Last night, there was no deeper story, we saw all that there was to see. Through the first three periods the Montreal Canadiens were bad.
After the first 60 minutes, Montreal controlled 38.6% of the shot attempts. Also, in those regulation minutes, they controlled 33.8% of the expected goals. These numbers are nothing short of brutal.
The Vegas Golden Knights had 3.8 expected goals against Montreal. That’s taking shot locations and determining the averages for each one going in. Add all that together and you have expected goals against a league-average goalie. Last night, Price outperformed a league-average goalie by almost double.
Doesn’t that match what we saw last night perfectly? Vegas could have easily had another two goals had it not been for the incredible poise of Price.
Not only did Montreal’s goalie give the team a chance, but so did the Las Vegas goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury showed some love for La Belle Province by spotting the Canadiens a goal when they needed it most to help send the game to overtime.
You can really see the difference between having a good goalie and having a great one from Caulfield’s goal. You can see Fleury stop skating backward and try to challenge Caufield, who immediately recognizes this and puts the puck around the frozen goalie.
Compare that with Carey Price’s save about 10 minutes later, and you see a goalie handle his gap way better. You can see him move consistently with the shooter but challenge enough that the shooter has to pick a side. Then Price slides to that post for an amazing save.
Having doled out all of this praise, it’s also true that Alex Pietrangelo’s goal was not a good goal. But one mistake on 45 shots is more than forgivable.
Once the Canadiens were gifted that overtime, they made the most of it, controlling 60.9% of the shot attempts and 75.9% of the expected goals.
On a night where the head coach was on the COVID list and the officiating was about as bad as I’ve seen, it seems we can still count on one thing: I mowed my lawn! Just kidding; Carey Price.