The Washington Capitals are on a five-game losing streak, which might have influenced our most recent happiness survey. It is possible that your feelings have been affected by Washington’s current 25-percent chance of making the playoffs. We shall see.
Here now is the executive summary for the second happiness survey of the season. Nearly 2000 respondents scored each Capitals player from 1 to 5, based on how happy the respondent is that the player is on the team.
Here’s how the question was worded:
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 way I share the results sometimes obscures how the votes have been distributed. This visualization from our friend Alex should help.
Courtesy of Alexander O’Reilly
For discussion, I have grouped the results into tiers. The tiers are my own and are subjective.
Below, each player is listed with their average score and their standard deviation. A higher average score means fans are happier to have that player on the team. A higher standard deviation means there is more disagreement about the player.
This is the tier with Ovi in it.
These are the team’s most well-liked players who are not also the greatest scorer of all time.
Washington’s depth forwards (Dowd, Hathaway, Protas) earn their spots among respondents’ favorites, even if Protas can’t crack the lineup lately. One could argue Wilson deserves a spot in his own tier, as he’s virtually the only player scoring these days, and he’s a solid 0.15 points above the pack.
Curious that Charlie Lindgren places above the number-one goalie. More on that in a moment.
Not that loud, not sticks and twigs. Just mid.
Every player in this tier except Gustafsson and Snively has experienced a drop since the last installment of the survey. In the case of Dmitry Orlov, the drop was 0.6 points, the largest in the survey since Kuznetsov’s personal struggles.
Goalie Darcy Kuemper falls below Charlie Lindgren, maybe because Kuemper has been the default starter during the team’s recent slide. I wonder if respondents would be surprised to hear that Kuemper puts up better expected-goal numbers than Lindgren.
These are the players over whom debate is most intense
These three players – once-critical pieces of Washington’s core – have the highest standard deviations, indicating a higher amount of disagreement among respondents. And you can see why – Carlson hasn’t played since Christmas, and the team’s power play has been a disaster without him. Evgeny Kuznetsov is having his worst season since that renaissance a few years back, maybe longer. Nicklas Backstrom: man, I don’t have the heart to tell you.
Something may be up with these players
I suppose expectations come with a cost. Nick Jensen had been Washington’s most dependable defender for a long while, but he’s been on the ice for nine opponent goals in the last ten games (Fehervary and Orlov are the only players worse, with 10 and 11 respectively). Johansson has a reputation for being a skeleton key to the offensive zone during the power play, but that power play is a mess regardless. I can’t really figure out what the deal is with NAK; I invite your feedback.
Something is DEFINTELY up with these players
This 33-year-old and this 35-year-old have reputations for slowing down the pace of games, which is not necessarily a virtue for today’s Capitals. I think Irwin’s been surprisingly good – especially in a strictly third-line pairing with van Riemsdyk, but he and Eller are both underwater in on-ice goal differential. It’s hard to believe either of these players are in the team’s long-term plans, and I suspect that is factored into your votes.
The fellows are exceptional – in a way. They just have special circumstances we need to consider.
Brown and Hagelin have not played this season. McMichael famously flamed out in tiny minutes early this season. Malenstyn played well early in the season but returned to Hershey after breaking a finger. Johansen has played only two games at the NHL level in 2022-23.
I’m actually stunned
This is the lowest score in the history of the survey. Since Mantha’s big failing is merely not scoring enough goals, I have to assume that the respondents are bringing more thoughts to their scoring. For example, if it’s obvious Mantha’s not working out in Washington, perhaps low happiness signifies that respondents want him traded. That’s my interpretation at least. If people are like, “I simply hate this man and his career-low shooting percentage”, that’d be a bit silly. But yeah, if you think it’s time to make a change, I’m with you.
In the bleak midwinter, eh? There’s a pervasive depression going around, and it’s not gonna fix itself. Your thoughts?
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