The Washington Capitals lost their 20th game of the season, a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. That game brings the team’s record to 10-9-1, and it brings us to an important sign post for the season. With twenty games in the books, we now know enough about the team to start drawing some conclusions.
This is the first in a series on RMNB in which we’ll take stock of the Caps after roughly a quarter of the season done. We’ll talk about a lot over the next few days, but I want to start with the big picture – how the Caps as a team are performing during 5-on-5 play.
The numbers I include here are from Corsica and Natural Stat Trick. RMNB is a patron of both sites on Patreon (Corsica, NST), and we urge you to join us. These numbers are from 5-on-5 play only, and they are weighted by score and venue to mitigate distortions from scorekeeper bias and different score states. For each stat, I’ll include the raw number and where the Caps rank among all 31 teams.
For now, I will keep the conclusions light (mostly), but feel free to expound in comments.
Let’s begin with a color-coded table of every NHL team, ranked by shot-attempt percentage. Green is good, and red is bad, and there’s not a lot of green for the Capitals. There’s a border around them so you can see them easier, and you can click the image to make it larger.
|47.4%||shot-attempt percentage, 25th|
|46.6%||shot-on-goal percentage, 29th|
|48.9%||goal percentage, 19th|
|45.2%||expected goal percentage, 28th|
|47.7%||scoring-chance percentage, 17th|
|40.9%||high-danger chance percentage, 31st|
These numbers tell us what percentage of each event belongs to the Capitals during 5-on-5 – e.g. if there are 20 total shots taken by both teams in a game, and the Caps took 5 of them, the Caps would have 25 percent of the shots.
And that example isn’t too far-fetched. The Capitals are in the league’s bottom six in shot attempts, shots on goal, expected goals, and high-danger chances.
For comparison, last season at this time the Caps had a 53.5 shot-attempt percentage, 5th best in the league.
|9.3%||shooting percentage, 9th|
|91.5%||save percentage, 18th|
|100.8||PDO (sum of the above), 9th|
Finishing stats are more volatile than the others we’ll discuss here, and that might not be a good thing. The Capitals have the ninth best 5-on-5 shooting percentage in the league – their only top-10 stat here. It’s also the stat most likely to regress over the remainder of the season.
The goalies have been a mixed bag. Aside from a few bad outings, Braden Holtby has been one of the best 5-on-5 goalies in the league (93.4 save percentage). Philipp Grubauer can’t buy a win, and hasn’t performing nearly as good as he did last season (89.1 percent, down from 94.0).
|46.2||shot attempts per hour, 26th|
|24.7||shots on goal per hour, 30th|
|2.3||goals per hour, 15th|
|2.0||expected goals per hour, 25th|
|28.1||scoring chances per hour, 17th|
|8.9||high-danger chances per hour, 29th|
The team with Alex Ovechkin is one of the least dangerous teams in the NHL right now. The only bright spot is the goal rate, but it’s a) barely got the team above a .500 win record so far, and b) vastly outpacing the underlying numbers. The Caps hadn’t really been an prolific offensive team during 5-on-5 during Barry Trotz’s time, but the attack has gone off a cliff this season.
|51.3||opponent shot attempts per hour, 24th|
|28.3||opponent shots on goal per hour, 21st|
|2.4||opponent goals per hour, 18th|
|2.4||opponent expected goals per hour, 21st|
|30.7||opponent scoring chances per hour, 26th|
|12.9||opponent high-danger chances per hour, 29th|
And they’re not stout in their own end either. The Caps are bleeding scoring and high-danger chances at a rate much higher than the rest of the league, but excellent work in net by Braden Holtby has kept those defensive problems from hurting the Caps too much so far.
In coming days we’ll have analysis on special teams, roster construction, goalies, and more. For now, at least we’re all clear on what the Caps are: Bad.