John Carlson is once again one of the NHL’s most productive defenders, but would it kill him to give Ovi a clean pass to the Ovi Spot every once in a while?
|23.8||time on ice per game|
|51.9||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|52.0||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|54.0||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:
About this visualization: At three times during the season (end of January, end of March, and end of May), RMNB shared an open survey with fans, asking the following question for each player:
On a scale from 1 to 5, how HAPPY are you to have this player on the team?
1 means VERY UNHAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
2 means UNHAPPY
3 means NEITHER HAPPY NOR UNHAPPY
4 means HAPPY
5 means VERY HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
The numbers above show the average score for the player in each survey period.
For the second consecutive year, Carlson has improved his defensive play. Opponents saw their high-danger chances against Carlson drop again — down from a career-worst 14.6 two seasons ago down to a decent 10.0 now. That’s driven opponent expected-goal rates to drop as well, giving Carlson his best expected-goals-for percentage since 2014-15.
Carlson found chemistry with Chara and Orlov, but he spent the majority of his time paired with Brenden Dillon. The Carlson-Dillon pairing was the worst of the three, underwater in all underlying stats except goals (24 for WSH, 23 for opponents). Carlson-Dillon played nearly 500 minutes together because, I think, they have nominally complementary skill sets. Dillon should be a physical and defensively minded player with a good pass, and Carlson should be an offensively minded player with a good shot. Maybe that works from an archetypal standpoint, but I don’t think we saw it manifested on the ice at all.
(I know it’s out of fashion, but I’m still open to the idea of a Carlson-Orlov pairing.)
Despite sub-optimal usage, Carlson still managed to hit the top-five in goals and points by defenders, and he was eighth in primary assists among them. Carlson’s individual production remains comfortingly high, especially considering how rarely he gets looks from below the faceoff dots.
For all we heard about Peter Laviolette’s “get the defense involved in the offense”, Carlson still seems to be primarily a point-shot guy.
But we cannot leave a Carlson review without talking about his most important, secret-to-everybody proxy stat: Ovi Spot assists on the power play. The blue blobs below show where (and how often) Alex Ovechkin took shots from his office during power plays with Carlson over the last three seasons. Again, from HockeyViz:
That looks stable to me, and yet it’s hard to square the process with the results — about 4 classic one-timer slapshots from above the faceoff circle assisted by Carlson. Seeing all those flubbed passes in the postseason was just one of our many frustrations with 2021, and it seems like it’s a big deal for the Caps’ marquee players to deliver on their classic scoring play. They haven’t been lately, and I’m not sure why.
How much of the blame does Carlson bear for the dropping output of the Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot? And who is the ideal partner for him?
Read more: Japers Rink
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