By now it has to be apparent: John Carlson is the most under-appreciated player on the Caps.
|23.4||time on ice per game|
|51.0||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage|
|52.0||5-on-5 expected goal percentage|
|-2||5-on-5 goal differential|
For on-ice percentages, 50 percent means even: both teams possess the puck evenly. Higher is better, lower is worse.
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows how the player has impacted play when on the ice. At the top of the image is the team’s offense (even strength at left, power play at right) and at bottom is the team’s defense (with penalty kill at bottom right). In each case, red/orange blobs mean teams shoot for more from that location on the ice, and blue/purple means less. In general, a good player should have red/orange blobs near the opponent’s net at top, and blue/purple bobs near their own team’s net at bottom. The distributions in middle show how the player compares to league average at individual finishing, setting up teammates to score, and taking and drawing penalties.
About this player card: This image from Evolving Hockey shows an overview of the player across different parts of their game. At top right are the players percentile rank (1 is worst; 100 best), overall and on offense and defense separately. Higher numbers are in blue. Below are the player’s contributions in different compartments of the game using the goals-above-replacement or GAR metric. Higher numbers (again in blue) mean the player adds value compared to an average AHL call-up player.
About this player card: This image from All Three Zones shows how the player compares to league averages in different microstats, especially ones regarding entering and entering zones. Blue bars mean the player has a higher rate of the statistic compared to league average, and orange means a lower rate. The numbers are Z-scores, also known as standard deviations, indicating how far the number is from league average, where two standard deviations means the player is on the extreme edge of the league.
About this visualization: At three times during the season, 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.
If I had to identify a single moment when the Capitals nosedived in 2022-23, it was December 23, when John Carlson took a shot to the head. The team had been genuinely great for the weeks leading up to Carlson’s injury, and then they lost their biggest minute-eater and the guy who I now think is the most unfairly maligned Caps player.
Turnovers. I don’t want to hear it. It’s bad to turn over the puck, but if you’ve got a lot of turnovers that’s just an indication that you’re a very important puck carrier for your team. And that’s what Carlson is – a critical player at getting the puck out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone.
Okay, yes, he’s not a good blue-line protector; I’ll grant you that. I think in the defensive zone that’s his biggest weakness, but along the the attacking blue line, that’s a function of how over-leveraged Carlson is. He’s asked to do so much, so often, and he does almost all of it at a near-elite level. He’s a prolific shooter, he’s got a great cross-ice pass, he makes his teammates’ offense more potent, he’s (supposed to be) the guy-behind-the-guy on the power play, and he’s often the person who starts the Capitals attack out of their own zone.
Seeing how dearly the Caps missed Carlson once he’s gone made me appreciate, finally, how good he is. I hope he comes into 2023-24 healthy and rested and ready to do what he does best. But yeah, maybe less turnovers too.
How can you still be a Carlson hater after this season?
This article would not be possible with HockeyViz, Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and All Three Zones. Please consider joining us in supporting them. For people interested in learning more from those resources, we recently published video walkthroughs.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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