Capitals Almost Back To Normal

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After a miserable eight-game losing streak, the Caps are finally starting to see some puck bounces go their way and are 5-0-1 in their last six. Good times ahead? We’ll see, but this is sure better than losing.

The scoring chances showed us this was just a matter of time. Remember, 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.

At even strength, the Caps put the scoring chances in their favor throughout the season, but when they failed to get the puck bounces to go their way it was a tough stretch of eight games. Once the bad luck started to even out, bringing their conversion percentage back to their season average, the Caps were able to right the ship:

at Even Strength Scoring Chance% Convert% Scoring chance Save%
Pre 8G Losing Streak 51.0% 19.1% 83.6%
8 Game Losing Streak 56.1% 6.4% 80.6%
Post 8G Losing Streak 55.7% 15.9% 90.0%
Season 52.9% 15.4% 84.0%

Scoring chance % is the amount of chances-for out of total chances that go in Caps’ favor.
Convert % is goals scored off of scoring chances
Scoring chance save percentage is scoring chances against that did not turn into goals.

Virtually the same amount of chances are going in their favor (55.7% vs. 56.1%), but converting almost two and a half men more goals makes all the difference between winning five out of the last six or losing eight games in a row.

This week I decided to look at which skaters were making the plays on the scoring chances, meaning not just by being a passenger on the ice but actively creating the scoring chance – either by taking the shot or making the pass.

Skater 5v5 TOI 5v5 SCF %5v5Indiv PP TOI PP SCF %PPIndiv
Fehr 369.3 88 53.4% 64.8 38 42.1%
Beagle 54.9 12 50.0% 0.7 0 0.0%
MP85 117.9 46 41.3% 17 8 62.5%
Ovi 619.2 191 34.6% 180.3 135 19.3%
Semin 458 129 30.2% 109.1 85 28.2%
MJ90 295.5 69 29.0% 12.4 6 0.0%
Chimera 441.1 98 27.6% 27.9 19 26.3%
A Gordon 62.8 19 26.3% 6.7 5 20.0%
Laich 468.4 150 25.3% 115.9 90 25.6%
Steckel 310.7 65 24.6% 6.4 9 0.0%
Knuble 485.8 136 24.3% 84.5 59 16.9%
Backstrom 578.3 173 23.1% 137.1 107 16.8%
Hendricks 323.6 83 22.9% 18.7 13 23.1%
Bradley 280.8 74 20.3% 2.5 17 5.9%
BGordon 236.7 52 11.5% 11 8 0.0%

SCF = scoring chances for
%5v5 Indiv/%PP Indiv are the percentage of chances at 5v5/PP that the skater was directly responsible for – either by taking the shot themselves or making the primary assist.

Looking at this table, it should be no surprise Eric Fehr finally broke through and tallied two goals during the Winter Classic. Over half the scoring chances he is on the ice for during even strength this season are of his own design, and it’s almost the same on the power play. Could this be the end of Uno Seis que sienta en el banco?

More and more, it seems that Mathieu Perreault could be here for the long term. Playing soft minutes is certainly helping, but half of hockey is taking advantage of opportunity and MP85 is making the most of his. With the way he has been playing with linemates Semin & Laich, I could see GMGM rolling the dice in the post season with that as the second line– and strangely I could be OK with it if other needs are addressed.

The boys from Hershey — Andrew Gordon and especially Jay Beagle — brought some good mojo and gritty offense in front of the net during these last six games. When Beagle was on the ice, the Caps got over half their 5v5 chances as a direct result of his play – Andrew Gordon, just 26%. Perhaps that’s why Beagle was given a Winter Classic sweater?

Skater 5v5 TOI DangerousAga% Save% QoC OFFZ%
Sloan 204.9 32.0% 70.8% 0.033 51.7%
Alzner 628.1 32.6% 82.2% 0.044 54.8%
Carlson 670.9 38.5% 85.4% 0.038 53.9%
Erskine 508 39.1% 85.5% 0.013 48.2%
Schultz 505.9 40.3% 86.7% 0.017 52.0%
Poti 253.4 47.5% 82.7% -0.040 49.0%
Green 558.3 48.5% 88.7% -0.011 52.6%
Hannan 208.8 59.4% 88.9% 0.033 47.7%

DangerousAga% are the percentage of shots against (Shots on goal, goals scored and missed shots) that originate from “dangerous” areas on the ice, which is roughly a pie shaped wedge starting from the goal, extending out through the faceoff dots to the top of the circles.
QoC is Behind the Net‘s Quality of Competition metric, and is the average +/- of opponents faced. The higher the number, the more those opponents have scored.
OffZ% is the percentage of time that skater starts in the offensive zone.

Carlzner were one of my keys to the Caps winning the Winter Classic and they haven’t disappointed all season. They play a huge amount of minutes against some of the stiffest competition (QoC) that Caps’ opponents have to offer and allow only a minimum amount of shots that aren’t blocked to come from dangerous scoring areas.

Scott Hannan seems to need a little more time to settle in defensively, but allowing almost 2/3 of shots directed at net to come from dangerous scoring areas is something that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later — otherwise we might as well have just switched Flash to a blueliner instead of trading him.

Goalie EV Scoring chance Save % PK Scoring chance Save % Overall Scoring chance Save %
Neuvy 83.9% 82.4% 83.8%
Varly 86.9% 81.8% 85.9%

I’ll admit Semyon Varlamov has looked really good these past few games, but mark me down for #TeamNeuvy until we start to see a few more games of consistency between periods from Varly. Either way, the rumors of the Caps getting a veteran goalie at the deadline need to stop — these two young netminders are more than capable of performing when it counts.

  • Hale

    This is very interesting, especially in light of the other recent analysis about whether Ovi was the problem on the PP (percentages may indicate that, but the sheer volume is hard to ignore). What I have trouble reconciling is how Al Koken can say on Chad Dukes that Semin is the problem on the PP when not only does he have the most PPG for the team thus far (6), but of the regular PP1 players (only sometimes lately), Semin has the best %PPindiv. Regarding Fehr, I think it is fascinating how much he does with the time he does get. I hope we get the chance to see how he does with considerably more ice time at some point — see if it holds up.

  • DarkStranger44

    Stats you quoted are reassuring in many ways. It points out how well Beagle and Perreault have done, as of late, as well as Fehr. It’s reassuring that Semin and Ovi have been generating chances, even if not scoring. I still won’t relax until their scoring resumes more “normal” rates. Andrew Gordon wasn’t bad but Beagle had done even better than him, hence Beagle stayed.

    Even if Knuble was low in the scoring chances department, he’s at least scored, as of late. Nicky B. certainly looks low in the scoring chance department. (BTW, were there changes in the amount of scoring changes Ovi and Semin had gotten in Dec as opposed to other months?)

  • Steve

    I’d be curious what would happen to the percentages if BB balanced the time the times of the fours lines a bit more and even the defensive time on ice. Would the top two lines and top d pairing benefit from fresher legs. I don’t care how much Ovie and Green deny it, they look plain drained at times towards the end of games.

  • breaklance

    I’ve always been Team Varly but not completely biased-ly so. Right now Varly’s stat line is stellar even including that disaster of a game he played during “the streak” However, however, he’s only played 11 games so far. Not a big enough sample and most of it has been him playing hot. I want to see him get more games to test his consistency and endurance. I’d be happy to see a 40-40 split for both goalies because both are young and haven’t had even that workload in the NHL yet.

    I’ve always thought, and still do, that Varly in his prime is a superior goalie to Neuvy in his prime. But realistically, Neuvy’s playstyle is more fit for starting 40-50 games a season and being very consistent. A deep playoff run, I’m unsure how this plays out. Ideally? I’d use Neuvy as the “regular” and Varly as the ace in the hole.