The Washington Capitals, without Matt Niskanen and playing in their second game in two nights, got drubbed by the Philadelphia Flyers 8-2 Saturday night.
There were many reasons why the team lost: the Caps were tired, the team defense was awful, and the Ovi line was torn apart in the D zone (Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov were on the ice for five of the Flyers’ eight goals).
But if you want two charts that really capture the ineptitude, let me point you to these shot attempt and shot location charts.
The Capitals got badly out-attempted in the game, 61-49.
The team only had three shot attempts below the dots. One of them was Jakub Vrana’s goal after a beautiful backhand pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Charts for Caps at Flyers are up at https://t.co/EZqE6AAq4D
Washington got three (3) shots of any kind from below the dots, all situations. pic.twitter.com/o6aznKtEx2
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 15, 2017
The Caps could not get deep into the Flyers zone, which suggests that they were overwhelmed and tired and as a result spent much of the night hemmed in their own zone. When they actually had the puck, they stayed to the perimeter flinging harmless shot attempts on goal.
“I thought the first period we looked good,” Barry Trotz said to Mike Vogel after the game. “Obviously, we gave up the short-handed goal [late in the first]. I thought we were okay until we got a little bit tired. We started turning pucks over.
“When you play back-to-backs, you cannot mismanage the puck the way we did. You’ve got to be smart with it; you’ve got to place it. We were trying to go through a lot of structure one-on-one and you can’t do that. It just kept coming down our throat.
“It’s a good lesson for us. We didn’t have the jump in the second half. The schedule probably caught up to us a little bit, but we weren’t good enough.”
While some analysts suggested the team should burn the tape and move on, one troubling trend emerged Saturday that may not go away anytime soon. Three defensive veterans played a ton of minutes. There was a total of one minute and 39 seconds when neither Dmitry Orlov (23:07), John Carlson (25:03), or 37-year-old Brooks Orpik (20:48) were on the ice. At least one player from that veteran trio was on the ice for 97 percent of the game.
For Orpik, though his 20:48 of ice time was among his lowest totals of the season, 2017-18 has already shown a marked increase in usage. He’s averaging 21:50 this season, up from 17:47 last season.
Meanwhile, Aaron Ness, who has seemed on the brink of healthy-scratch status a few times, appears to be getting more ice time than his coach might want.
The coach’s trust in him, Christian Djoos, and Madison Bowey is apparently not yet there. The three young players have a lot of work to do before they can carry minutes by themselves.
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