By Tuesday night, the NHL had seen 10,226 shots and 904 goals. That’s a 8.8 shooting percent. One out of every 11 or 12 shots on target gets through in this game, and every single one of them has a story to tell.
In the Caps’ corner of the league, those stories have been tragic– coming at the worst times and in the worst ways. Despite outshooting their opponents 334 to 280 in all game situations, the Caps have outscored their opponents just 34 to 31.
Put another way: the Caps aren’t getting the bounces.
The Caps’ excruciating 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames was more evidence of how elusive goals can be– and how downright stupid they can be as well.
About halfway through the game, Marcus Johansson led the Capitals into the offensive zone. With Troy Brouwer skating up the middle, Johansson put a hard shot off the boards behind Jonas Hiller.
Technically, that should have been marked a missed shot with a zero percent chance of going in. Instead, the puck found the back of Hiller’s skate pad and scooted into the net, tying the game at two.
We never see goals like that. Well, except when Joel Ward did basically the same thing against the Devils on October 16th.
The Caps have a terrific power play, but they haven’t always been great at 5v3. When Joel Ward got the puck on his stick during a two-man advantage at the end of the second period, he had a good chance to score– but probably not much better than one-in-five from that narrow angle.
Ward’s shot doesn’t have a clear path. It first hits the post (again, that’d technically be a missed shot), then it hits either Mark Giordano or Jonas Hiller before crossing the goal line. Greasy and unlikely like meeting your future spouse at Waffle House.
You’re not supposed to be able to score from behind the net. The part of the net that is open faces in the other direction, so if you’re back there you’re not going to score.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work, but physics have lately had a tenuous grasp on Capitals hockey. Markus Granlund‘s tying goal in the third period is the best example of that.
The Flames are dumping and changing here. Granlund is just buying time, chasing the puck behind the Caps net and sparring with Orpik and Green. Green raced to the corner as Orpik went to the middle, but Green’s hard-around pass died on Granlund’s stick. Without looking, and from behind the net, Granlund sent the puck backwards, where it went off Johansson, off Brouwer, nothing but net.
Here’s Danny’s Vine of it.
No one knows with any certainty which shots will go in and which will not. It’s uncommon, but sometimes a shot with virtually no chance of scoring ends up changing a game. Of the three goals above, none would have even been called a shot on goal had they not ended up in the back of the net.
When we muse about PDO and fluctuating shooting percentages, this is the heart of it. Over the course of a whole season, the good bounces and the bad bounces should be close to a wash. But in a single game like Tuesday’s, they’re the difference-maker.
That’s hockey. And that’s why possession and outshooting your opponent is so important.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.