Zone Starts and Expected Scoring Chances


Ovechkin is out of sorts. Does anyone know why? (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Semin cooled off, Marcus Johansonn started to heat up, Ovechkin is un-Ovechkin-y, and we saw the Caps get shut out for the first time in almost a year. Quite an up-and-down week. Despite it all, scoring chances are once again preserved for posterity.

I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.

Coach Boudreau used every line combo imaginable this week (except for the much ballyhooed DJ King-Steckel-Ovechkin line), so I thought we would look at expected scoring chance percentage (SC%). Scoring chance percentage is the amount of scoring chances-for (SCF) that go in the Caps favor when a particular player is on the ice. For example, if a skater is on the ice for 6 scoring chances-for and only 4 against his  SC% would be 60% (6 chances for divided by all 10 chances when on ice). If we know how often a player is deployed in the offensive zone, we can calculate their expected scoring chance percentage. Then it is simple subtraction: subtract the actual from the expected and we can see each player’s true efficiency. All numbers are for even strength only.

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Caps Pens 24/7 Preview

For those of you who missed it Saturday night, here is the Caps Pens 24/7 Preview that HBO aired. Epic.

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Saturday Night Letdown: Flyers beat Caps 5-4 (SO)


Marcus Johansson records the night’s first goal. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals are designed by a higher power to elevate your blood pressure, and you will thank them for it. If last night’s flustercluck with the Thrashers turned you into an Eeyore, tonight’s bout with the Philadelphia Flyers rendered you manic. Peppered with a generous helping of penalties, the Caps fought a pitched battle with the east coast brutes that defied convention. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like the outcome.

Marcus Johansson opened up with a swat from the slot as expertly set up by Jason Chimera. The Flyers responded with three consecutive goals (two in the second period alone) from Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter. Nicky Backstrom and Jason Chimera mounted a comeback in a wild third period, but Andreas Nodl put the Flyers ahead with only six minutes remaining. After fighting through an excruciating penalty kill, Eric Fehr re-awoke his offensive instincts at the perfect time (i.e. 45 seconds left in regulation). After a teeth-clinching overtime period, the teams lined up their shootout squads. Brian Boucher declined offers from Backstrom and Ovechkin, and Danny Briere beat Neuvirth via the five hole.  It was down to Alex Semin. He beat Boucher cleanly and released the puck… CLANG! Flyers beat Caps 5-4 (SO).
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Semyon Varlamov’s New Mask as Described by the Artist

The new Semyon Varlamov mask painted by David Gunnarsson.

The new Semyon Varlamov mask painted and airbrushed by David Gunnarsson.

Today, pro airbrush artist and custom mask painter David Gunnarsson released photos of the new mask he painted for Semyon Varlamov. He also shared some of the inspiration and backstory behind the mask’s creation.

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Poor Effort, Bad Bounces Sink Caps: Thrashers Win 5-0

Braden Holtby: despondent.

A despondent Braden Holtby looks on after giving up the third goal of the night. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

When Joe B. and Locker finished their pre-game intros and CSN cameras zoomed in for the opening face-off, it was hard not to notice the rows and rows of empty seats in Phillips Arena. The Capitals, seemingly aware of their surroundings, lacked energy and focus and proceeded to play down to their opponents. After giving up three quick goals to Ben Eager, Nik Antropov, & Evander Kane respectively, Braden Holtby was quickly summoned to the Caps bench by an enraged Bruce Boudreau.

Michal Neuvirth was steady in relief, but unfortunately for the Capitals, they were never able to locate their game after the switch. The offense was blessed with quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance but all resulted either in a missed shot, a ping off the post, or a solid save by Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Evil cheeseburger-eater Dustin Byfuglien then put the game officially out of reach, closing the second period with a nifty short-side wrist shot past Neuvy. And let’s not even talk about that Burmistrov goal. I’m still angry at Jeff Schultz, who stopped skating, got deked out of his jockstrap and resembled a giant, awkward pylon on the play. Whatever. Thrashers win 5-0.

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The Machinist: November 19, 2010


RMNB mention in D2 of The Washington Post’s Sports Section.

The Machinist is where RMNB takes a look back at the week that was.

First off, big ups to Dan Steinberg for coining our new tagline: The world’s foremost authority on Holtbyisms.

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Why Caps Fans Need Tålamod With Marcus Johansson

Marcus Johansson during warm-ups

Photo credit: BridgetDS

Nothing like skating on the best real estate in the NHL in only your 9th ever NHL game to ratchet up expectations. Enough that some question if MJ90 should even be in the NHL. The answer is: of course he should. How else will the Caps know what moves to make in April?

And make no mistake, they will have to make a move because even with all the patience in the world, MJ90 is probably not the answer for the second pivot slot this year. And that’s OK. Tomas Fleischmann, who was recently benched asked to take his turn sitting out, isn’t either. Neither is Matheiu Perreault (sorry Nicci), Cody Eakin (again, sorry Nicci) or anyone else currently in the Caps organization. Patience (tålamod), not rash thinking, is what’s important.

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RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – Once more, Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans emerge from the Russian wilds to deliver the straight dope on all players somewhere outside the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, MSNBC). Here comes Prospect Watch!

In today’s issue, you’ll learn about how Cody Eakin’s big night fell on Cody Eakin bobblehead night. You’ll despair in the troubles Dmitri Orlov’s club is having. And you’ll want to send a care package to Greg Burke as he recovers from the kissing disease.

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Bradley’s Big Night: Caps beat Sabres 4-2

Matt Bradley celebrates his goal with the Caps bench.


Michal Neuvirth and Mike Green celebrate their 7th straight victory at home. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Michal Neuvirth and Mike Green celebrate their 7th straight victory at home. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Last week’s loss at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres inflicted more psychological damage than anything else. The Washington Capitals have been adjusting line combinations and trying chemistry experiments ever since. Like a gauntlet thrown down, tonight’s game challenged the Capitals to play a complete hour of hockey for the first time in a while. Not quite there yet, guys.

On a 5-on-3 power play, Alex Semin set up Nicky Backstrom for a backdoor knock-in. Matt Bradley followed that up by converting an excellent pass from Jason Chimera. That same line hooked up for the third goal, again facilitated by Chimera, but put in net by a well-timed shot from David Steckel. For a while it looked like Ryan Miller had been defeated, but the Sabres recovered with a two-goal burst in the second period sponsored by Derek Roy and Jordan Leopold. Goalie Michal Neuvirth reasserted himself in third period, turning away all ten attempts. With the Buffalo net abandoned, Alex Semin launched an ICBM from the Caps zone to punctuate it. Caps beat Sabres 4-2.

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Reader Reports: Alex Ovechkin Signs DVDs at Sterling Best Buy

Alex Ovechkin, in his Avoid Responsibility T-Shirt, signs copies of his new DVD at the Sterling Best Buy.

The new Alex Ovechkin DVD came out today to much aplomb. Surely, you’ve seen the trailer. Hopefully you’ve followed along as Dan Steinberg cataloged the shirtlessness. It’s kind of a big deal.

Alyonka Larionov (daughter of Igor “The Profesor” Larionov), who worked on the film, supplied this note using some newfangled technology called YouTube:

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