|17.8||time on ice per game|
|45.4||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|45.2||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|49.9||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
Honestly, Kuznetsov scored two goals and two assists in the Islanders series. He had trouble with shot quality, but the Caps owned the puck more than the Isles during his shifts, and he was only outscored by one goal. As much as his regular-season stats sucked, Kuznetsov genuinely improved in the playoffs.
The Caps sucked overall in the postseason, but Kuznetsov was one of those lonely forces pushing in the other direction. I find that encouraging. The rest of Kuznetsov’s season, and really his whole three-year trend, is a sharp and despairing downward decline in which a formerly elite-tier player has become a distinct liability, wasting $7.8 million in salary cap space and top-line minutes next to the world’s best goal-scorer.
Of 300 forwards with at least 600 minutes of ice time, Kuznetsov allowed opponents more high-danger chances than 283 of them.
Here is a Hockey Viz heatmap of opponent shots when Kuzy’s on the ice. I superimposed a picture of one of the Cenobites from Hellraiser on top of it for some reason.
In Kuznetsov’s defense (rimshot), he actually improved his defensive numbers slightly from 2018-19. And at the other end of this ice, he kept his offensive contributions roughly even.
That last part is so important and so impressive. As bad as Kuznetsov has been, especially in his own end, he remains a gifted player in those last forty feet or so. It’s the getting there that’s the problem, and Kuznetsov is just not capable of doing it on his own. Just look at this comparison of Caps skaters when they’re with Backstrom versus when they’re with Kuznetsov. I wrestled with how to visualize this, but then I just color-coded the shot-attempt and expected goal percentages, and it read pretty clear to me.
Everyone puts up good-to-great numbers when with Backstrom. Everyone puts up bad-to-unplayable numbers with Kuznetsov. It’s not a subtle effect. If you take a shift with Kuznetsov at center, you’re more likely to be playing defense. He’s just not able to get the puck back and get across the ice anymore, and that’s been the downfall during those unwise Ovechkin-Kuznetsov shifts as well as during the power play. Barring a radical turnaround in Kuznetsov’s approach to the game, the Caps will remain a bottom-third team when it comes to defensive and transition play.
For Peter Laviolette, Kuznetsov is problem A1. He either needs his game rebuilt from the ground-up, or he needs someone else to take responsibility for the 160 feet where he’s terrible. To continue to pretend like he’s a top-line center can no longer be an individual failing; it’s now an organizational one.
View this post on Instagram
Another angle pic.twitter.com/jP6JCuksJ7
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 5, 2020
To try and avoid a too many men on the ice penalty, Evgeny Kuznetsov tried to hide in the Penguin bench. 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/FQneyyKPBW
— #StanleyCup Playoffs on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) February 2, 2020
How can Kuzy improve in his own end, and how can the team help Kuzy improve in his own end? Who would you like to see him play with? Should we even talk about moving him to the wing… or the dreaded T-word?
Read more: Japers Rink
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.