Outside of you elite Caps fans, I bet not many people know that Jakub Vrana is in the league’s top three in five-on-five goals. As of Sunday, Auston Matthews has 20, and Vrana and David Pastrnak are tied at 17.
Whatever success Vrana has had this season has happened during even strength. He’s been scarcely used on the power play. Until now.
Vrana was promoted to the Caps first power-play unit last week after the PP flamed out against Philadelphia Flyers. In his first game with PP1, Vrana scored the team’s lone goal against New Jersey. That special-teams goal was Vrana’s first of the whole season. It’s the one red block in the graph below, a list of the league’s top scorers, ranked by their five-on-five goals.
Vrana’s success so far is special because he’s such an odd duck. Noel Acciari and Zack Kassian are the only two players in the list who do not get a bunch of power-play time. (Brendan Gallagher gets a lot of it but has not scored.)
Here’s another way to look at it. The horizontal axis shows each player’s goals per hour during five-on-five play; the vertical axis shows how much available power-play time they get. Unsurprisingly, Alex Ovechkin is at the tip top.
Assuming Vrana sticks around on PP1, his already-breakout season could kick into hyperspeed. He’s already got a great shot and the skill to take a lot of it it; he ranks 11th in shot-attempt rate and 26th in individual expected goals per hour. Now he’s going to get the opportunity to use it more often and in more dangerous moments.
Or, put another way:
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.