Thursday night the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 in the shootout on Russian heritage night in arguably the most important game of the season to-date (for both teams). The Caps generally kept the pressure on, and Sergei Bobrovsky asserted himself as a true Vezina contender. On the other end of the ice, Braden Holtby was equally stellar, with a save-of-the-year candidate on Boone Jenner. In the end, TJ Oshie continues to be money in the shootout, and Holts stood tall at the other end, giving the Caps the win.
Overall, this was the most shots the Caps have put on net all season at 45. It was important that they make a statement against the Jackets, and statistically they did. The Caps had an absurd 89 shot attempts on the board (in all situations) to 48 by the Jackets. Five-on-five shot attempts were 74 to 35.
Lots of guys to choose from here, but let’s give it to Nick Backstrom. His on-ice stat line was silly. He saw 31 shots in favor of the Caps and just 10 against, in 13:39 of ice time. That’s an average of more than two shot attempts per minute. Scoring chances were 12 to four, and shots on goal were 17 to six. Backstrom has been on fire lately, and it he’s been the driving force behind the top line’s recent dominance.
The season is winding down, which means it’s almost time for us all to start collectively freaking out and spending way too much time discussing the NHL awards. We previously made a case for Holtby as a Vezina finalist, and he likely still is (although Sergei Bobrovsky currently looks to be the favorite). But what about Nick Backstrom for Selke? We mentioned above that he’s been incredible lately, and the possibility has certainly gotten some airtime from Trotz and others.
The short answer is… probably not. As much as we’d love for Backy to get this award, his two-way statistics don’t quite stack up against the other Selke favorites. In terms of his raw five-on-five on-ice rate of shot attempts against (score adjusted), Backstrom is only 87th best in the league among forwards playing 750 minutes. First on that list (unsurprisingly) is Patrice Bergeron, out of 212 players.
But raw shot attempt rates are partially dependent on deployment, which also doesn’t help Backy’s statistical case. Below is the deployment of some perennial Selke favorites, and what stands out are the brutal defensive zone starts of Kesler and Koivu, as well as the excellent possession against tough competition by Bergeron. Faceoffs also come up a lot in the Selke discussion, and Backstrom is 47th best among forwards taking over 200 draws. Bergeron and Kesler are top-ten, while Koivu and Toews are top-twenty. Overall, Backstrom is having an elite offensive year, but statistically, it’s tough to make a case for him to win the Selke.
Stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey and NaturalStatTrick.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI.
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