Just a quick item for your lunchtime perusal.
That goals-against count comes despite strong numbers from the goalies. Braden Holtby is sporting a fantastic .922 save percentage, Michal Neuvirth a decent .913.
As that suggests, the Capitals are allowing lots of shots on goal. They are 25th in the league in allowing shots on goal during 5-on-5 in close-game situations.
So the Caps goalies are doing well despite getting buried in pucks, which means the problem lies elsewhere– most likely with the defense allowing all those shots. That makes this comment from Adam Oates, reported by 106.7 THE FAN’s Sky Kerstein, all the more curious:
#Caps Oates on getting Orlov playing time "We'll see, we'll see. Defenseman are playing good."
— Sky Kerstein (@SkyKerstein) November 12, 2013
The question was why Dmitry Orlov, called up from Hershey last week, was not in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Columbus.
None of this is to say Orlov getting a sweater would magically fix the team (or even improve it necessarily), but Oates’ sunny estimation of his defense’s performance seems contrary to the evidence above– some of which offered by the team’s owner. The defense seems to be playing quite poorly– as illustrated by the volume of shots the team is allowing as well as the team’s low possession rank (26th) and its apparent problems exiting the defensive zone and transitioning to offense in neutral.
Below is a player usage chart for Caps defenders who have played at least five games this season. Top left means more defensive zone starts against tougher competition; lower right means more offensive starts against weaker competition. Red means more shots go against the team; blue means more shots go towards the opponent’s net– with size representing how many shots.
I don’t have any agenda in sharing that chart. I invite you to draw your own conclusions.
A final note: Elliotte Friedman’s indispensable 30 Thoughts column yesterday discussed teams interested in acquiring defenseman Ladislav Smid. Although there is some dispute, Washington was on the list. That seems apt.