Ed. note: Peter here. One of my favorite reads this season has been Derek Miller’s Capital Precession. Derek crunches hard team data, visualizes them handsomely, and then talks about them like an actual human. It’s very refreshing. I’ve asked Derek to give us a report on the Caps as we head into the trade deadline. Where do they stand? What’s working? What’s not? Derek’s got the answers.
I’m going to make what is probably a very safe assumption and say most of those reading this on RMNB have never seen one of my posts before, so I’ll explain the format quickly. I’ll throw up a few graphics that are typically related, and each data series will have two graphs– one will display the season cumulative data, and then below it will be a plot of the same data but just of a 10-game rolling average. Then I’ll provide some commentary on what I’ve observed.
All of what I’ll comment on is from the teamwide data presented. I don’t dig into the individual skaters’ stats, but if I have noticed something while watching the games I may make remarks based off that. Most of the comments will be on the 10-game rolling data, because at this point in the season it takes a lot to shift the season year-to-date data.
Also – I’m going to use the legacy names for the statistics, e.g. Corsi and Fenwick. That’s still what I know them as, and I haven’t changed my code to spit out whatever terms NHL has started using.
The last post I wrote on my site was after a game against the Flyers, and the overall consensus was that things looked good, if you had ignored that previous Philly game. This post will share that theme, for the most part (except extended to the past two games). But I’ll also be taking a look at what areas the Caps seem to need some improvement. We are, after all, just days away from the trade deadline, and the Caps are definitely looking like buyers.
If you’ve seen a plot similar to this before, that’s because J.P. from JapersRink has been tweeting the same thing for a while now, I just copied it because it provides a good indication of where the Caps are sitting when looking towards the playoffs.
Right now, they’re pretty good. Ever since that Vancouver game on December 2, the Caps have been picking up standing points just about anywhere they can.
The pattern present in the possession metrics is not as sunny though.
Over the last nine games the Caps haven’t had the puck as much as they usually do. That could have a lot to do with their recent opponents. They have been some of the better possession teams– except for Philly, who really seems to have the Caps’ number.
It’s a good thing the Flyers have a lot of ground to cover to make it to the playoffs. Because if the regular season is any barometer, Do. Not. Want. That would be a circus of a first-round series, and I’m not confident the Caps would come out on top.
The recent trends do not make me comfortable. If the Caps are looking to add anyone to the roster, I’d hope he’s a positive-impact player. Because if Trotz ices a sub-optimal lineup, and neither Schmidt nor Orlov are game-ready soon, the possession scores are a troubling trend.
Nothing too interesting here. Although I guess it’s worth noting that the Caps have been holding both a total and even strength PDO over 101 for some time now. That could be considered lucky, although my red-tinted glasses opinion is that they have the talent to sustain a PDO greater than 100.
Let’s break it down into more meaningful parts.
Holtby has been steady, quietly putting up Vezina-quality numbers. But shhhh, otherwise he’ll need a big pay raise and that could be problematic given the turnover expected this offseason.
The even-strength shooting percentage has been dipping quite a bit for the offense. But, 7.75 percent isn’t terribly low for a team, so there’s nothing really to take away here, just that Holtby rules. So does Ovi. And Nicky…and a lot of others.
To go with the plummeting possession data, the Caps seem to be growing allergic to shooting lately. The decrease is less pronounced at evens, which is interesting. We’ll take a look at the power-play shot generation shortly.
At least to go with their drop in shots for, the shots against are following the same trend. Although I’d still much prefer to see the Caps outshooting their opponents regularly. And that hasn’t been the case. This data of course neglects context due to score situations and that could easily skew the data.
Oh my. That STI (special teams index: the sum of power play and penalty kill efficiency) drop due to just the Philly game on Sunday is… something. Ten percent is a large drop. The season cumulative data even dropped a little over 1 percent in one game. And this late in the season, that’s bad. Let’s break down the individual special teams.
Wow. I have no idea what’s going on with the power play. But Fry has some advice:
Lately, they’ve seemed too content to just hold the puck and wait for a shot. There may be more to this. There is a corresponding spike in shooting percentage during this little shot drought.
Over the last 10 games, the Caps have only been generating about 15 shots per 20 minutes of power-play time. If they were still putting 20 pucks on net per 20 minutes, and getting their average 3 power plays per game, that’s 1.5 more shots per game. And if they convert at their season average of 15 percent, that’s one more goal every 10 games. It may not seem like much but with 20 games left, those 2 goals they’re potentially forfeiting could go a long way towards determining their opponent in the first round.
A little good and a little bad to take away here. The Caps have been doing well lately to stay out of the penalty box (minus “Rivalry Night”). I like this. However, they have also been giving up 5 more shots per 20 minutes of shorthanded time than they were 5 games ago. Using the same math as above with the power play, they could potentially give up another 2 goals over the next 20 games. So if they could just revert back to what they had been doing on both the power play and the penalty kill we’re talking about a 4-goal swing.
I say that like it’s an easy fix, but I have no idea. However, it does shed some light onto another area the Caps could look to improve through trade. Someone effective at taking away shots on the penalty kill– maybe Orpik is slowing down later in the season.
So I really like what the Caps have been doing with the lead lately. That said…I’m not really digging their approach to the tied game. They’ve really been getting hammered recently when the score is tied. Not too sure why that is. I’m curious if it’s Trotz’s deployments. He may be sending out ineffective lines at inopportune times, or since it was a lot of away games, the opponent has just gotten the matchups they wanted. Either way, it’s not a trend that would suit the Caps well if continued.
This is just looking at Corsi instead of Fenwick, if that’s your shtick. Here’s something strange: over the past 10 games the Caps are almost as good of a possession team when they have 2-goal lead or greater– compared to when they are tied. Boo.
Let’s see what is causing the percentage to drop. Are they shooting less, or are they allowing more, or is it a little of column A, little of column B?
Fenwick Rates: Score State
Well, I guess that’s definitive. There are no real trends to speak of in the attempts for, but when tied the Caps are allowing almost 17 more Fenwick attempts against per 60 minutes than they were 15 games ago.
Maybe the Caps should just be playing with the lead all the time…that would be nice. It would give Holtby a little bit of rest since I’m sure he’s not going to be seeing a whole lot of the bench the rest of the season.
Same thing is going on with Corsi; it’s not just a shot-blocking phenomenon. Either way I look at it, I don’t like it.
So there’s everything lumped into one plot. The points keep piling up, but the possession is starting to slide a bit. PDO may be increasing slightly, but nothing too noteworthy. And the special teams index seems to fluctuate a lot. Now that I think of it, that seems to be how the Caps do special teams things. It certainly seems like they give up power-play goals in bunches, and then score power-play goals in bunches.
That’s all the data I have. If you have any formatting suggestions I’m open to hearing them. Or if there’s any data you’d like to see that I didn’t present I could take a swing.
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