Photo: Christian Petersen
Editor’s note: The snapshot should be up first thing on Monday morning. Instead, now that the Capitals are twenty games into the season, we’ll be running a series on how they look so far.
Barry Trotz is a huge improvement over Adam Oates. It’s not even close.
But as the season goes on, it’s becoming apparent that Trotz has chosen his favorite players and will place them wherever he wishes in the lineup despite evidence that it’s hurting the team. For all his many, many successes, Trotz is not exercising good evidence-based decision making in his distributing ice time.
Now that we’re twenty games in, this is a good opportunity to understand how Trotz is apportioning time, and how it’s working (or not working). To do that, I’m gonna use a visualization introduced by Tyler Dellow about one year ago that was later adopted a lot of places, including here, back with the top-Heavy Oates!Caps.
It’s not going to be pretty.
Along the left side of the table, I’m going to rank the forwards by their 5v5 ice time. Along the top, I’m going to rank the defenseman by 5v5 ice time.
The top left is where most ice time is– and hopefully the best players. The bottom right is where the least ice time is, and hopefully the weakest players.
In each cell I’ll put the Caps’ shot-attempt percentage when that forward is on the ice with that defenseman. Above 50 means the Caps are outshooting their opponents, but I’ll color code it so you can get the big picture.
|Above 56 percent|
|54 to 56 percent|
|52 to 54 percent|
|50 to 52 percent|
|Below 48 percent|
Most teams are best when their “best” players (as measured in ice time) are on the ice.
For a functional lineup, we want the top-left to be green (good possession when the top players on) and the bottom-right to be somewhat red (poor possession when the fourth lines and bottom-pairing defense are on).
That is not the case for the Capitals.
That’s all I’ve got, though it’s a lot. Are you seeing anything I’m missing? Are you able to articulate Trotz’s reasons for valuing Orpik, Carlson, Chimera, and Beagle as much as he has despite the plentiful and downright obnoxious evidence that it’s bad? If so, please share.
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.