Photo: Rob Carr
When Brooks Orpik went down with an injury on November 10, Nate Schmidt was handed a large role by Barry Trotz and the Caps coaching staff. One area where Schmidt has been playing a lot more in Orpik’s absence is on the penalty kill. While Schmidt’s sample of minutes killing penalties is still quite small (about 17 minutes), early returns show that Schmidt should be given more minutes on the penalty kill and remain there once Orpik returns.
Here’s a look at the team level penalty kill numbers both with and without Schmidt as part of the regular penalty killing unit. The cutoff for without Schmidt is November 10, the last game Orpik played. Everything after November 10 is in the with Schmidt numbers.
The Caps have seen a drastic reduction in both shot attempts and unblocked shot attempts against since Schmidt took on a larger role on the penalty kill. Using War on Ice’s definition, the scoring chances are slightly less in the with Schmidt era, but marginally so.
Next, we’ll break it down a little more and look at how well the Caps limit shot attempts against while shorthanded when each defender is on the ice.
Fewer shots are directed towards the Caps net when shorthanded when Schmidt is on the ice than any other defender. While the gap between Schmidt and the rest of the Caps’ penalty killing defenders is likely to wide to be sustained, the early numbers are encouraging.
Some believe that unblocked shot attempts is a better indicator of penalty kill effectiveness. Here’s how Schmidt ranks.
Schmidt’s numbers are behind Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen but still comfortable ahead of Orpik and John Carlson.
Lastly, here’s a look at scoring chances against, as defined by War on Ice, when shorthanded.
Just like in unblocked shot attempts, Schmidt doesn’t fare as well as the Caps top pair of Niskanen and Alzner, but the Caps allow far fewer scoring chances with Schmidt on the ice than when Orpik or Carlson are on the ice.
The Caps have seen a significant reduction in the amount of rubber thrown towards their net when shorthanded since handing Schmidt more penalty kill time. While the sample is too small to make any grand conclusions, the early returns certainly justify continuing to give Schmidt time on the penalty kill, even after Orpik returns.
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.