Photo: Patrick McDermott
The Caps’ power play is rightfully considered one of the most dangerous in the NHL. As of the All-Star break, the Caps sat third in the league with a 24.4 percent conversion rate when up a man and they generate more unblocked shot attempts than just about any team on record.
But that’s not to say that the PP doesn’t have its cold spells. In December, the team went just 6 for 43 during the man advantage. Japers’ Rink touched on some of the possible explanations for the December PP struggles, primarily focusing on how the Caps’ lack of PP face-off success related to the lack of PP conversions.
Another important aspect of a power play is zone entries– that is, how a team enters the offensive zone. This generally happens in one of two ways:
The Caps’ recent hot and cold streaks have had a lot to do with how they enter the zone.
This is what a controlled entry looks like:
The Capitals pass or carry the puck into the offensive zone. In the example above, Marcus Johansson has the puck on his stick as he crosses from neutral into the offensive zone.
This is an uncontrolled entry:
At some point between center ice and the offensive-zone blue line, a Capitals player shoots the puck into the opponent’s zone as other players chase it down, hoping to regain possession.
And this is a failed entry:
The Capitals’ attempt to get the puck deep into the offensive zone– either with sturdy possession or without– has been stopped by the opposing team.
I tracked two different five-game segments of Caps’ PP zone entries. The first segment, from December 20th until December 29th, was when the Caps’ PP conversion rate was bad. The second segment, from January 12th until the 20th, was when the Caps’ PP conversion was very good.
Small-sample rules apply. Instead of having to reiterate this throughout the post, consider this a blanket small-sample warning.
|Conversion Rate||Shot Attempts/60|
|Bad PP||9.5% (30th)||75.7 (11th)|
|Good PP||30.8% (1st)||88.2 (1st)|
The number in parentheses is the team’s rank compared to other teams’ season-long numbers. If the team is 30th, that doesn’t mean they’re 30th among all teams within that five-game segment; it means that the team is 30th when compared to season-long numbers for the 29 other NHL teams.
In summary, the Caps went from worst to first in conversion rate and 11th to first in shot-attempt rate.
Here are the zone entries for those two segments:
|% Uncontrolled||SA per entry||% Controlled||SA per entry||% Failed|
If you’ve read this far and are tiring of the numbers, stick with me. The remaining charts will lead to a few follow-up posts in which I’ll look at specific game play examples of individual Caps’ players and their role in PP zone entries.
|Player||On-ice Entries||Individual Entries||Individual Entry Percentage|
On-ice entries: how many team zone entries that individual player was on the ice for
Individual entries: how many team zone entries in which that individual player was responsible for the puck upon entry
Individual entry percentage: The player’s number of individual entries divided by on ice entries
Note: You may notice that the number of on ice-entries doesn’t compute with the individual entries. That’s because I didn’t always assign five players on-ice entries to every zone entry. If a player was changing during the entry, I didn’t count that as an on-ice entry.
Now, here’s how successful the individual players were on those zone entries. For the sake of simplicity, I’ve included four players from the first PP unit plus Kuznetsov. There are no particularly worthwhile takeaways from the rest of the players tracked.
|Player||iUncontrolled %||iControlled %||iFailed %|
iUncontrolled %: Percent of individual zone entries by player that were uncontrolled
iControlled %: Percent of individual zone entries by player that were controlled
iFailed %: Percent of individual zone entries by player that ere failed
I’ll have more posts coming on the Caps PP zone entries, looking at the role of particular players.
In the meantime, what do you see in regards to the Caps PP zone entries? What do you find interesting here? Let me know in the comments. If you have questions about how I tracked the entries, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them as best as I can.
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