Jay Beagle plays tough minutes against not-so-tough players. He played without the puck more than any other forward this season, but he hit personal highs in goals and assists anyway. Plus, the Caps outscored their opponents by a hefty bit. So has Beagle solved puck possession, or should we just count our blessings?
|13:38||time on ice per game|
|48.8||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|62.3||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:
Corsi is great as a starting point, so let’s start there: Beagle got buried. When Beagle was on the ice during 5-on-5, the Caps took 48.8 percent of the shot attempts, an Adam Oates-level performance in the Barry Trotz era. Opponents took 52.1 shots per 60 minutes, the highest rate aside from the top line.
Now let’s move beyond shot metrics, and a step towards explaining them. As a face-off specialist, Beagle got used extensively in the defensive zone, starting 375 shifts there (30 more than Backstrom, who was obviously over-used defensively). Beagle’s a damn fine face-off man, winning 56.4 percent of drops. That made him the go-to for draws in the DZ.
Being used so much so close to his team’s net – more than any other Caps forward at 39.1 percent – certainly excuses some of his rottenshot-attempt differential, though we should also note that he played against weaker opponents (going by ice time, expected goals, and shot attempts) than the other lines. And maybe that’s what bugs me. In the 43.6 percent of the time that he loses a puck drop, it’s a feeding frenzy for the other team.
I think that speaks to tactics. While Beagle is a meat-and-potatoes player, he struggles with a productive transition to offense. He can get a clear (especially on the PK, where I think he’s golden), but less often with control and even less often followed by a viable entry into the offensive zone. A trip into neutral for Jay Beagle too often leads to a prompt retreat back into the Caps’ side of the ice.
But, and this is important, none of that actually hurt the Capitals this season: Beagle outperformed his bad possession massively (62.3 percent of goals, that’s nuts) and hit his career bests in goals and assists thanks to a 13.0 shooting percentage.
I expect Beagle to do more of the same in the final year of his contract in 2017-18. That means lots of DZFOs and lots of penalty killing. But I don’t think it would be reasonable for us to expect 30 points and a positive goal differential out of the grinder next time around. Moreover, we should look back on 2016-17 as a great bounty of luck for Jay.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 6, 2016
So, like, how can we get Beagle to game his corsi next season?
Headline photo: Capitals
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