Last night, the Capitals where shut out by the New York Islanders, falling 3-0 in a frustrating game. There was plenty of disappointment to go around for the Capitals. Justin Williams continued his run of poor luck when he missed out on scoring a late first period goal by 0.1 seconds, and looked shaken after an elbow from Cal Clutterbuck. The Caps allowed three quick third period strikes by the Islanders (two gift-wrapped by Dmitry Orlov). They will probably want to put this game in the rearview and forget about it.
Although at times the Caps looked bad — like horrible bad — last night’s shot chart shows that they were doing something very right. The Caps managed 54 five-on-five shot attempts while the Islanders only had 34. If you take into account the man-advantage time the Caps had in their five power play attempts they outshot the Islanders by a massive margin of 87-47. Check out the five-on-five shot chart below.
“We playing hard, working hard, and I did two bad mistakes and it cost our game,” Dmitry Orlov said to the media after the Caps’ 3-0 loss last night.
The 25-year-old defenseman committed two turnovers (one somewhat unlucky, the other egregious) three minutes apart in the third period. Jason Chimera would later conjure a Chimiracle to close the scoring.
For Orlov, the costly mistakes continue to be The One Bad Thing in a career full of Great Things: big hits, highlight-reel goals, and top-notch possession numbers.
Last night the Capitals kept on rolling by beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 for their second win in a row (and sixth in their last ten.) Goaltender Philipp Grubauer played a standout game and ticked off the “W” in front of his parents and girlfriend. And the depth chipped in some welcome scoring, with Daniel Winnik and Brett Connolly both finding the back of the net.
Not long ago we discussed some worrying trends after a loss to the Blue Jackets, and while this wasn’t a dominant game, the Caps have continued to climb out of their mini-rut. They have been above 50 percent possession in seven of their last nine games, and have had the better of scoring chances in five of those.
The Capitals dominated the St. Louis Blues in a memorable 4-3 victory last night, on the eve of America’s annual food-worshipping holiday. The star of the show was Alex Ovechkin, who netted the 16th hat trick of his career. Also featured was a mostly Russian scoresheet and children dressed as turkeys.
Despite the one-goal margin, this game was never in doubt (okay, maybe the last 30 seconds had us worried). The Caps out-attempted the Blues 35 to 24 at five-on-five, and 26-13 through the first two periods. Despite a late surge on the man advantage, the Blues never had much going at even strength.
With an 11-5-2 record, the Washington Capitals are off to another good start. They’re not amassing standings points at quite the same torrid pace as last year’s Presidents’ Trophy outing, but they’re still a damn fine hockey team.
Around this time last year, I wrote an article with the headline, “These Capitals are The Team.” What I should have said is “These Capitals are The Team that will certainly disappoint you in the playoffs once again.” That would’ve been a wordy headline, but it would have articulated something we’ve seen with the Trotz Caps every year: they are faders.
Hi, my name is Peter, and I’ll be your host for this biweekly snapshot.
The Columbus Blue Jackets won their fourth straight game Sunday, but not it was not without controversy. Captain Nick Foligno drew a high-sticking penalty from Nicklas Backstrom with 1:34 left in the game. Alexander Wennberg would score the tie-breaking and game-winning goal on the resulting power play with under a minute remaining.
That result would have been easier to stomach for the Capitals if Backstrom’s penalty was a penalty. It wasn’t. Backstrom’s stick never touched Foligno.
Tuesday night the Washington Capitals played a low-event game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (until the third period), eventually losing 2-1 in overtime. The highlight of this game was a sublime second period goal by Nicklas Backstrom, and his excellent game overall. The lowlights included a go-ahead goal disallowed and Alex Ovechkin seeing very little ice time.
The Caps finished the night with 44 shot attempts at five-on-five while the Jackets finished with 45. The third period was the most lopsided, with the Jackets putting 13 pucks on net to just 3 from the Caps. Attempts in that period were 20-10 for the Jackets.
Two games ago the Capitals’ 22-year old forward Tom Wilson led the team’s forward group in five-on-five ice time against the Winnipeg Jets with 15 minutes. This has not been the norm, as Wilson currently sits ninth overall among Caps forwards in five-on-five ice time, but it does highlight an interesting opportunity that the team has.
Wilson is a polarizing player, almost certainly the most polarizing to suit up for the Caps on a regular basis. The first round pick probably already sits in the “bust” column for many fans, and his unrelenting physicality draws the ire of 29 other fanbases.
But with the commitment of a new two-year deal, Wilson is here to stay. And despite a continued lack of results, there is a case to be made that now is exactly the time during that two-year window when Wilson should be seeing serious playing time — at least more than the 10.5 minutes per game he has seen to date.
Peter introduced the weekly snapshot during the 2013 season. The snapshot is a weekly look at Caps players in a few key statistical areas. Looking at these numbers can help us not only analyze what has happened but also allow us to take a more educated guess as to what is going to happen in the future.
People have told me they feel intimidated by advanced stats or think they aren’t good at math, and so they’ve never tried to understand them. Here’s the good news: the stats are really easy to understand and use elementary school-level math.
In four of the last seven games, the Washington Capitals have let a two-goal lead evaporate in front of their eyes, but it isn’t time to panic quite yet. In three of the four games, the Caps were able to right the ship and still win. Protecting leads is important in the NHL, and the Caps could get into trouble expecting to be able to squeak by in these types of games often.
In the past, the Caps have been good at protecting leads under Head Coach Barry Trotz. Last season, the Capitals were 21-0-1 when leading after the first and 37-0-1 when leading after the second. They ended the season at 34-2-2 when scoring first as well, which the Capitals have done in nine of the ten games so far this year. And while allowing multi-goal comebacks in four of seven games is not ideal, this kind of adversity in October and November can build the necessary character needed in May when, not if, this scenario were to arise again.
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