I asked Pat what he thinks about the Caps right now. He had already blown off our double date/board-game night this weekend because he’s a Serious And Busy Grown-Up, so all he gave me in response was this barely legible tweet.
jake vrana shooting more than Ovechkin, Leipsic’s offensive confidence and flash, and me wondering when Poti came back every time I see Jensen
— Paddy Holds (@pfholden) November 15, 2019
Still, that’s some good stuff. Let’s talk about that stuff.
Jakub Vrana is having a breakthrough season. He has nine goals and eight assists through 20 games, and he’s done it by exploding his shot rate. An average shot-attempt rate for a full-time NHL forward is around 12 per hour. Vrana had been just above that number for a while, but now he’s above 20 per hour. That’s more than Alex Ovechkin. That’s a 99th percentile performance.
Those monster numbers what it looks like when a talented player approaches his peak. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Vrana this season.
Meanwhile, in Ovechkin’s defense, when you account for shot quality (as best we can measure it using available data), he still has the edge.
Both Vrana and Ovechkin are well above the average forward expected goal rate of around 0.6 per hour, and you could argue the Caps’ offense is not well appreciated by the data used to drive xG models.
It’s so easy to overlook depth forwards when it comes to offense. Jay Beagle built a whole career off getting underestimated on attack. Brendan Leipsic, 25, seems to be in that vein. He’s a solid two-way player, but he’ll surprise you with his tenacity — especially in the opponent’s crease. Check out his aggressive position against the Flyers.
Professional goal scorer Brendan Leipsic gives the Capitals a 1-0 lead pic.twitter.com/sgHjFYeBpX
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) November 14, 2019
That’s not an anomaly. Most NHL forwards get around 28 percent of their offense from the “high-danger” areas. That had been the case for Leipsic, but Washington’s strong depth has allowed him to get even deeper into the zone this season. He’s getting more than a third — 35.5 percent — of his offense from high-danger spots, more than a standard deviation above average for a forward.
There are a lot of reasons to be happy with Washington’s bottom-six options right now. Leipsic’s low-key offensive talent is just one among many.
I don’t see it.
More 20 games in stuff coming this weekend.
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