This weekend the Capitals dropped back-to-back road games to the Red Wings and the Rangers, losing two in a row for the first time since late December. The NHL is piloting a new “bye week” this season, whereby each team gets a five to seven-day mid-season break.
This weekend marked the Caps’ return from their own bye week and the continuation of what has been dubbed “the bye-week curse.” So far, 16 of 19 teams (including the Caps) have lost their first post-bye game.
The Caps were indeed sluggish in their first games back. The Red Wings outshot them 43 shot attempts to 31 at five-on-five, and after getting outshot 19 shots on goal to 10 in the first period against the Rangers coach Barry Trotz said “it could’ve been 5-0.” The Caps will look to regroup and avoid a three-game losing streak before Wednesday night’s “rivalry” game against the Philadelphia Flyers (a potential first-round opponent).
Here is a closer look into the stats of the Caps’ two weekend games.
Alex Ovechkin wouldn’t normally strike you as “unsung,” but on paper he had a very strong weekend in all situations. The captain is at his best when his individual stat line is huge, and that it was this weekend. He posted 20 shot attempts (all situations) with 8 of them on net, as well as seven hits and the lone goal in Sunday’s game, all in 40 minutes of ice time. The team may have been a bit sluggish coming back from the bye-week but Ovechkin seems to be plenty refreshed for the stretch.
Prior to the start of the season, we talked about how defensive zone starts can be a barometer of how much a coach trusts defensemen. Checking in on that trend, the only pairing that is even remotely sheltered by Trotz (in terms of zone starts) is the pairing of Schmidt and Orpik. The chart below is the percentage of zone starts in the defensive zone (horizontal axis) and the percentage of shifts that finish in the defensive zone (vertical axis). The color of the bubble is possession (blue is good, red is bad) and the size of the bubble is time on ice. This shows that overall the top-four defensemen are starting equally as often in the defensive zone and generally also not finishing there. The bottom pairing, while doing well in terms of possession, starts less frequently in the defensive zone and finishes more often there. Graphic courtesy of Corsica.hockey.
Full Coverage of Caps at Rangers
Stats courtesy of NaturalStatTrick and Corsica.hockey.
Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI.
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