On Sunday the Capitals successfully closed out a difficult weekend, beating the LA Kings 5-0 on home ice. They also honored Alex Ovechkin for reaching the thousand point plateau, and TJ Oshie detonated a water bottle. The Caps were as efficient as a surgeon’s scalpel, pouncing on their opportunities and blowing out the Kings despite being dominated in many statistics.
The game was a textbook example of what is known as “score effects.” At the time of the Caps’ third goal, five-on-five shot attempts were neck-and-neck at 18 to 16 in favor of the Kings. By the end of the match the Kings were miles ahead, 65 to 31 — or 32 percent possession for the Caps. That makes this the single worst possession game the Caps have had all year long, although it’s more than excusable given the result.
Tom Wilson gets it tonight, although Ovechkin also had a quietly solid game. While Wilson was underwater in terms of possession (just like everyone else), he saw slightly less than one five-on-five shot attempt against per minute on the ice. Along with Jay Beagle, that was the least on the team. He also limited shots on the PK and had the third-best expected goals-for percentage on the team.
The Capitals are on an unsustainable PDO binge. That does not mean the Caps are purely getting lucky, or that they aren’t earning their goals, or that the goalies aren’t genuinely playing lights-out. It just means that they are currently on pace to finish with the best save percentage and the third-best shooting percentage of any team in any season since 2010 (at five-on-five). If you discount Toronto’s 10.7 percent in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, the Capitals are shooting behind only the 2016-17 Minnesota Wild, who are on a similar PDO bender.
It’s not that the Caps aren’t playing well, it’s that if they sustain this pace they will finish as the most accurate shooting and stingiest goaltending team of the last seven years. This visual shows just how steep the shooting percentage mountain they have climbed is.
Stats courtesy of hockeystats.ca, corsica.hockey, and NaturalStatTrick.
Headline photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI.
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