Could Caps score their way to a Cup?
During my chat on Tuesday, I stupidly started nattering out about how there was no reason the Caps couldn't score their way to a Stanley Cup. Correctly, a reader asked me on what basis I was making that claim. I didn't really know. But now that I've gone back and looked at some recent numbers, why not say it again: the Caps could score their way to a Stanley Cup.
Sure, playoff hockey is different. Sure, you're not going to win a Cup with a shaky goaltender or a rickety defense. That said, a good offense has seemed a better predictor of playoff success than a good defense in recent years.
If my math is correct, each of the four post-lockout Cup winners ranked at least sixth in regular-season goals scored. Only one of them ranked in the top six in regular-season goals against.
In two of the past three years, the regular-season scoring champion advanced to at least the conference finals. Only once in the past three years did the team with the fewest goals allowed advance that far. The Caps, of course, are currently leading the NHL by an insurmountable 43-goal margin, and are tied for 17th in goals allowed, a profile almost exactly matching those of last season's Stanley Cup finalists.
Here are some of the conference finalists' rankings from the past four seasons.
Goals for: Detroit (1st), Pittsburgh (tied for 4th), Chicago (tied 4th), Carolina (16th)
Goals against: Chicago (5th), Carolina (8th), Pittsburgh (18th), Detroit (19th)
Goals for: Detroit (3rd), Philadelphia (6th), Pittsburgh (7th), Dallas (tied 8th)
Goals against: Detroit (1st), Dallas (6th), Pittsburgh (8th), Philly (19th)
Goals for: Buffalo (1st), Ottawa (2nd), Anaheim (tied 6th), Detroit (10th)
Goals against: Detroit (tied 3rd), Anaheim (7th), Ottawa (10th), Buffalo (13th)
Goals for: Carolina (3rd), Buffalo (tied 5th), Edmonton (tied 13th), Anaheim (15th)
Goals against: Anaheim (tied 8th), Buffalo (10th), Edmonton (13th), Carolina (tied 18th)
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