Karl Alzner is an institution. Since 2010, he’s played more games as a Washington Capital than anyone else.
But that’s over now.
|19:47||time on ice per game|
|49.0||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|61.5||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
So this is bad.
Ride with me back to elimination day on May 10. Except the year before this one. It was Game Six against the Penguins, and the Caps would eventually lose in overtime. But at the dawn of the second period, just 2:47 in, Karl Alzner ended his 10th and final shift by tearing his groin. On breakdown day, Alzner seemed gutted by the injury. One month later he got sports hernia surgery and hasn’t really been the same since.
Except, by the numbers, Alzner’s been on a slide for a while now. Here’s opponent rates per 60 during Alzner’s 5-on-5 shifts over the last three seasons.
|Season||Attempts||On net||Chances||Expected goals||Goals|
Everything is heading in the wrong direction. Here, using hockeyviz, is an animation of how opponents are enjoying their time against Alzner more and more.
See all that action right up the gullet this season? Sheesh. There are more shots and more chances coming against Washington’s shutdown defenseman. Thank goodness for Braden Holtby playing superbly behind Alzner, or else the Caps’ iron man would not look so studly today.
And don’t get it twisted, Alzner does look studly. He plays lots and lots of tough minutes – among the highest percentage in the league against star players – and he’s gonna get rewarded for it on his next contract. Even as we learn more about the vanishing value of stay-at-home defensemen for whom the miles have caught up, Alzner is still an attractive free agent.
Probably not here though. When Alzner’s broken hand cost him what would have been his 600th straight game, Nate Schmidt stepped in and the Caps didn’t lose a step. Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen ably picked up the shutdown role.
Karl Alzner is a smart player. He has good gap control and even better stick discipline. He’s never been fast, but if he can regain some speed and execute like he used to, he’ll be a boon to the Calgary Flames roster.
Am I right that Alzner’s done here? If so, where will he sign on July 1? How long and for how much? And what’s your fondest memory of him?
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen
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