“But, Peter,” you might say, “what could be awesome about the Caps losing two out of three games on that road trip?”
A good question, hypothetical reader into whose mouth I have put words. While the Caps played awesome in western Canada, the results were not uniformly awesome. We’re gonna have to dig deep this week to find the coolest stuff in the Caps’ world.
Speaking with your boy Dan Rosen about why the Caps lost to Vancouver, Barry Trotz blamed the Capitals being too concerned with their corsi scores. “I call it analytics death,” Trotz told Rosen. “There’s a time to carry and there’s a time to self-chip it. You’ve got all the speed so self-chip it, get on the other side of the guy, and hang onto it. We were trying to dangle guys.”
So in general, “analytics” tells us that carrying the puck in to the offensive zone yields, on average, more shots than dumping it and chasing after it. Except in Vancouver, the Caps looked (to me) to have been doing a lot more of the dump-and-chase– even on the Ovechkin line. Both that decision and its meager outcomes might have been the result ofthe Canucks’ tactics (i.e. crowding the blue line to force a dump and making it hard for the Caps to retrieve the puck).
And though I doubt I need to point this out, “analytics” doesn’t prescribe attempting a carry-in every time; it just says that a team gets better results on average and in aggregate if they do. Nothing is absolute.
Anyway, Trotz is right. It’s not something players should be concerned with. I’d be terrified of players playing with the goal of maximizing their on-ice shot-attempt differential. Their goal should be goals, both prevented and scored. It just so happens that playing that way successfully happens to also mean maximizing on-ice shot-attempt differential. And coaches should be keenly aware of that– the analytics game.
It’s just an odd quote I guess.
Ovechkin – Burakovsky – Ward
Johansson – Backstrom – Brouwer
O’Brien – Latta – Wilson
Chimera – Kuznetsov – Beagle/Fehr
No clue how the Capitals will line up against the Red Wings, but it’s clear Trotz has donned his lab coat and got his bunsen burner burning.
Ovechkin and Backstrom have broken up. That’s alarming. They’ve spent 93 percent of their 5v5 time together, during which they’ve scored 55.6 percent of the goals and attempted 61.1 percent of the shot attempts (i.e. possession measured in Corsi). A 60+ line is a rare and fearsome thing in the league, and the Caps had that in Ovechkin-Backstrom. Now they do not.
Perhaps this a way to kickstart Alex Ovechkin’s shot output, which had been flagging over the last week? Seems unlikely to me that expert setup man Nick Backstrom is at fault for that. Japers Rink had some ideas about what the true culprit might be.
No matter, new lines give us something to talk about. We’ve got a ton of variables being swapped here, and if these lines last we may begin to know who is driving possession and who is along for the ride.
This cracks me up. Good work.
Mike Green has seen the @russianmachine photoshops, by the way. Said his friends kept sending them to him.
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 28, 2014
I’ve been unkind to Johansson’s play over the last three seasons. It behooves me to acknowledge that he’s playing well now. During 5v5 since October 10th, Johansson is attempting shots at a faster clip than everyone but Fehr, Ovi, Backstrom, and Burakovsky. He’s got the puck more, and he’s shooting it more, and those are exactly the two qualities we’ve always wanted for Marcus.
How he’s pulling it off, I’ve got no clue. Is he winning more battles along the board? I don’t think so. Is he playing more physical? I really doubt it. He might just be ditching the pass-first mindset, which might be enough.
No matter what, appreciation where appreciation’s due. Marcus Johansson is kicking some tail. A few weeks ago, I had him pegged as trade bait. I’m happy to be wrong.
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