All power plays go through slumps over an 82-game season. When a slump happens at the start of the season, it’s a lot more noticeable because they’re the only numbers we see. This is the case with the Caps power play, who, with two goals on 19 opportunities, is currently 28th in the league.
We know this slump won’t last. There’s too much talent on this team for the slump to last. But just because the numbers are likely to go up and the sample size is small doesn’t mean there aren’t other things going on.
A couple seasons ago, I tracked the Caps’ zone entries and wrote about the role it played during a Caps slump. I haven’t had time to track them this season, but while the zone entries don’t seem terrible, that’s not to say they’ve been particularly crisp on a consistent basis.
But another place to look for warning signs is shot attempt rates. On a team level the Caps’ shot attempt rate this season (111.3/60) is pretty similar to last season’s (109.2/60).
Going a layer deeper, to individual shot attempt rates, we may find part of the problem. The Caps current slump could be partially due to who is shooting the puck on the PP and where they’re shooting from. Here’s a look at shot attempts per 60 minutes of PP time by player, for both this season and last season.
In samples this small, individual players can see a huge difference between seasons. But one thing that stuck with me when looking at this is that all three of the defensemen the Caps use on the PP have seen an uptick, to varying degrees, in their shot attempt rate this season.
The issue is none of them have scored. And, if we look back at last season, it’s not as if the defenders are leading the way in conversion rate when we look at shooting percentages with the man advantage.
Shots from defensemen on the point are some of the least successful shots on the PP. More shots from these players could mean less goals for the PP unit.
Two caveats here are that point shots can create rebounds or deflections and the threat of a point shot can possibly open up other options over the course of the season.
Given these caveats, I’m not denouncing the Caps’ tendency to shoot more from the point on the man advantage this season. But, it is worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses, especially if the PP continues to struggle.
Headline photo: Rob Carr
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.