The Washington Capitals are in the bottom half of the Metro Division standings, having lost a winnable intra-division game to the Flyers. Their once-vaunted power play sits in the bottom third of the league. They lost every overtime opportunity they had. And now, they’re missing virtually their entire second line for over a month.
Today in the snapshot: Very good. No seriously. There is also a lot of good news.
- GP – Games played.
- YOU – Time on ice in minutes
- HER% – Percentage of attempted shooting. The proportion of total shots attempted by Washington while the skater is on the ice. 50% means same.
- SA% Rel – Relative percentage of shooting attempts. The difference in SA% when the player is on the bench versus the ice. 0% means even.
- SG% – Goals-for percentage. The share of total goals scored by Washington while the skater is on the ice. 50% means same.
- PDO – The sum of the shooting percentage and the Washington saving percentage when the skater is on the ice. 1 means even. The acronym doesn’t mean anything, and yes, it’s boring.
- In short, at the team level, the Capitals rank twelfth in controlled shot attempts with 51.8 percent and – oddly – sixth in expected goals with 54.9 percent. Washington has traditionally been the team that has outperformed its weak xG stats. I consider it a mixed result and one that we should come back to once we have a few more weeks of hockey.
- Infant Connor mcmichaels process stats are superb (a high percentage of team ice shooting attempts of 60.0, expected goalscoring percentage of 67.3) but he has an actual goalscoring percentage of 46.6 ( five for the Caps, six for the opponents), among the lowest of the team. These meh results are mainly due to a poor goalkeeper – 85.2% in a five-on-five game. It’s too early for me to draw any conclusions about McMichael, although I’m optimistic about his future. Most of the time, this bullet was just a crash course in snapshot stats.
- If I resist characterizing the good game of McMichael, I must do the same for Hendrix LapierreIt’s a bad game. He only played 52 minutes five-on-five, but the Caps were beaten 53-37 in that span – a team low of 41.1 percent. Taking quality into account with expected goals, Lapierre looks fine at 48.1%, which makes me feel better for resisting drastic conclusions for the time being. Sure, McMichael is at the top of the list and Lapierre is at the bottom, but let’s relax until they have more ice time.
- That ice time will come quickly as the Caps will be without Nicklas Backstrom, Anthony Mantha and TJ Oshie for an extended period. It’s practically their entire second line, which will force a lot of ice time for the younger ones, which is ultimately a good thing for a very old club. It’s still a terrible circumstance for the Capitals, but it comes at the best possible time: early in the season and when the schedule is relatively easy. Here is the strength of the Washington opponent using an unweighted average of the ranking points projected from many models for the opponents.
- The next two weeks will see the Caps play in Buffalo, Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Seattle. These are three xG teams out of the last ten, not counting Buffalo and Detroit. The Caps should be able to cover at least 0.500 in this stretch while still missing out on a huge chunk of their powerful attackers. Injuries are never good – unless it’s the regular season and you’re Tampa – but if you have to get a little bumped up, you better get it now.
- The former Washington Fourth Line has been in the elite for quite some time. Carl Hagelin, Hathaway Garnet, and Nic dowd take the toughest minutes and games possible, and they’re doing really well. I think you could tell they are snakebites too. Carl Hagelin is known for his lack of skill at the finish, but he and Hathaway have generated an expected 2.6 goals without hitting the back of the net once. The line as a whole pulls 2.3 percent. The goals will come. No Hagelin; he’ll never score again, but the other guys will definitely score more.
- Also deep in the red in expected versus actual goals is Lars Eller, and I’m a little more worried about him. He’s been scoreless for eleven games, although he generated the expected 1.3 individual goals in a five-on-five game. But what is more concerning is his declining individual offense. Below are the individual shot attempt rates for each of the past three seasons.
- Eller’s final season was one marked by injury and generally pretty bad, but his first comebacks in 2021-22 were around that level. If that’s his new normal, it’s a bit daunting for a player I was hoping I could step up with with Backstrom sidelined. Consider me not worried yet, but maybe just a little suspicious at the moment.
- Alright that’s all I can get without talking about it Alex Ovechkin, which is pretty good imho. From the same graph above, we can see his individual shot attempt rate of 16.9. I always prefer him over the age of twenty, but I’m not going to quibble about his results: ten goals and eight assists in eleven games.
- A brief foray into the non-five-on-five: Oveckhin has two power play goals this season, neither of them coming from The Ovi ™ Spot. here is my annotation of his offensive visualization of hockeyviz.
- The Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot is constantly stopped by goalkeepers, suggesting bad luck, good spotting and / or bad setups. I think Washington’s power play is sorely lacking Nicklas Backstrom‘s quarterbacking to the right half wall. The team is currently ranked 22nd in the league in terms of conversion rate, and 18th and 19th in terms of attempt rate and expected goal rate. This suggests to me a team that is not unlucky but not very good. I would love to see them make systemic changes now, especially while the team still has a lot of opportunities. It’s time to complete some Ovi stats.
- Revisiting that season’s viewing attempt rate per view from earlier, here are the final six ratings:
- It’s almost the same scale as the first six. Connor mcmichael generates more individual offense than Alex Ovechkin, who is banana. If this lasts, McMichael will be a special player – I guess the Vrana level. During this time, Daniel srong gives the team a viable secondary score and Garnet Hathaway is a gun, and someday I’ll teach Ian to love him. This is good news, especially for a team that doubts its depth.
- Let’s do one more, this time for the defenders.
- Nick jensen shoots more than most forwards, including Kuznetsov, Eller and Hagelin. I would like him to share a few attempts with his main partner, Dmitry Orlov, but I understand. For the moment.
- Speaking of D, it’s so good to see Trevor van Riemsdyk again obtain an appropriate place in the range. Its twinning with Justin schultz has been Washington’s best this season. Really, all of Washington’s defensive pairs have been fine, even though Carlson-Fehervary has stumbled in the last few games. Here are the odds on the ice for all couples in the league, with the Washington groups highlighted. At the bottom right, it’s better.
- I’ll be revisiting this screw as the season samples mature. I’m really like Washington’s defensive players right now, especially if they can find a way to tame the occasional drawbacks of Carlson’s style.
- We’re running out of space, which means oh no, I can’t be in trouble to have an opinion on Evgeny Kuznetsov, and I don’t have to anger anyone by being cool with Vanecek and Samsonov.
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Title photo: Elizabeth Kong / RMNB