The Past Can’t Be Changed: Week 10 Snapshot

Marcus+Johansson+Evgeny+Kuznetsov+Montreal+IkPj5W9MH3Al

Photo: Maddie Meyer

Welcome to the final snapshot of 2015.

To note that Jason Chimera‘s 13.3 percent shooting percentage isn’t likely to last does not take anything away from what the Ice Cheetah has done this season. Pointing this out doesn’t subtract any of the 10 goals he has. The same goes for the Caps as a team. Mentioning that their possession game has been slipping doesn’t take away any of their wins. It doesn’t cost them any points in the standings or make their winning streak any less enjoyable. Instead, the point is that the winning is unlikely to continue with the possession numbers they’ve posted lately.

Truth be told, I think the Caps’ possession will bounce back, and the win on Saturday against Montreal showed signs of that. To go through a dip that is below the team’s talent level, but have the goaltending, special teams, and some luck help rack up the wins isn’t a bad place to be.

The Caps have won a lot of games recently in which they were outplayed. I think it’s unlikely the Caps will be outplayed as much moving forward.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Asses Not Inside Heads: Week 9 Snapshot

T+J+Oshie+Edmonton+Oilers+v+Washington+Capitals+5zXzVLp-5dzl

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Friday night’s thrilling comeback win over Tampa Bay propelled the Caps into first place in the NHL standings. Despite the 5v5 process still not being as sound as it was in the first month of the season, the Caps continue to rack up wins at a breakneck pace. There are reasons for that, some of which we’ve touched on in recent snapshot and some of which we’ll get into below.

But first, let’s get this out of the way: This team is fun.

One of the aims of the snapshot is to offer a sober analysis of what the underlying numbers say and where the team is headed. The concerns noted in recent snapshots still stand. But, to go off the snapshot script a bit, this team is simply fun to watch. The skill level in the top-six is dazzling, and rarely does a game go by without some sort of highlight-reel pass or goal.

To think, five years ago this team was mired in a slump, they adopted a boring and crippling trap system, and Bruce Boudreau was cussing about asses being inside of heads. While there are reasons to keep the current optimism guarded, it’s also fun to note how relatively awesome things are right now.

Let’s do the numbers, current as of Sunday before the game against the Rangers.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Jeremy Roenick’s Astonishing Ignorance

jeremy-roenick-crying

I guess I’m going to write about plus/minus again and why Jeremy Roenick is a bad analyst. Please skip this article if any of the following is true for you:

  • You already know plus/minus isn’t good for player evaluation.
  • You already know Jeremy Roenick is a bad analyst.
  • You don’t like me, my writing, or numbers in general.
  • You’ve got other stuff going on today.

Any of those is a valid reason not to read this, but if you’re still with me, let’s dance.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

holtby

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

During the course of an 82-game season, every team goes through periods where they just don’t play well. Recently, one of those teams has been the Washington Capitals, who are ranked 20th in score-adjusted possession over the past 30 days.

Luckily for the Caps, they have one of the best goalies on the planet who also happens to be playing the best hockey of his career. Over the past 30 days, Holtby has posted a 95.82 percent save percentage during 5v5 play. This ranks first among the 26 goalies who have played 360-plus minutes during that time.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Keep On Keepin’ On: Week 8 Snapshot

orlov

Photo: Rob Carr

For a good part of the early season, the Caps were playing like they had discovered the goal cheat in NHL ’94, imported Bo Jackson’s dominance from Tecmo Bowl, and mastered the Madden truck stick. They were dominant. While the team has continued to rack up the points and now sits one point out of the lead in the Eastern Conference with three games in hand, the dominance isn’t there anymore. The process has had some troubling signs of late.

In week 2, we talked about the long road that is an NHL season. The long road has hit some bumps lately, but is it time to be concerned? Are these bumps just an inevitable part of the process of an 82-game season, or are the Caps coming back down to earth a bit and won’t return to their dominant ways? Let’s run the numbers and dig into all of this.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Worry Not for Alex Ovechkin’s Offense

patrick-mcdermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

With a hard-nosed drive to the net on Tuesday, Alex Ovechkin ended a three-game goal-less slump in which he took just nine shots. Though Ovechkin recorded assists in two of those three games, that week without a goal, the league leader board, and the general seeming malaise of the Caps power play might have some people anxious about Alex Ovechkin’s production.

There’s no need. He’s fine. He’s better than fine. He’s great.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Bless You, Braden: Week 7 Snapshot

CapsIslesPreseason_22

Photo: Amanda Bowen

The weekly snapshot has been a very happy place so far. Overall, the Caps have been racking up points and doing so with underlying numbers that suggest their results are sustainable. Lately, however, some of the trends have been concerning. Braden Holtby has had to steal points for the team, which is the luxury of having an elite goalie. Over an 82-game season, an elite goalie will do that. But if the entire team fancies itself elite, they will need to rely on Holtby a lot less moving forward.

In the month of October, the Caps were the best shot suppression team in the league, allowing just 43.2 shot attempts against per 60 minutes of 5v5 play. Slowly but surely, since around Halloween, the team’s league-leading shot suppression abilities have deteriorated. From November forward the Caps are ranked 13th, allowing 51.1 shot attempts against per 60. Both numbers are adjusted for score, so score effects are not the issue here.

This has had a profound effect on the Caps’ overall possession. The graph below, from War on Ice, show the team’s 10-game rolling shot attempt percentage. In a hurry, this team has slid from elite to just pretty good.

10gamerolling

Let’s do the numbers and see if we can figure anything out as to what is causing the Caps to look merely above average, and at times not even that good, in recent weeks.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

nate-schmidt-pk

Photo: Rob Carr

When Brooks Orpik went down with an injury on November 10, Nate Schmidt was handed a large role by Barry Trotz and the Caps coaching staff. One area where Schmidt has been playing a lot more in Orpik’s absence is on the penalty kill. While Schmidt’s sample of minutes killing penalties is still quite small (about 17 minutes), early returns show that Schmidt should be given more minutes on the penalty kill and remain there once Orpik returns.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

And the Beat Goes On: Week 6 Snapshot

CapsJets_08

Photo by Amanda Bowen

Twenty-three games into the season, the Caps sit atop the Metropolitan Division (worst division name in sports? yes!) with a record of 17-5-1. This team is good.

This team is very good. In fact, they have us thinking they may even be The Team. The Caps puck possession has slipped a tad in recent weeks, down to a still pristine 53.2 score-adjusted shot attempt percentage, good for fifth in the NHL. Over the past two weeks, this mark has been 50.2 percent. Still fine enough and nothing to be concerned about yet, though certainly worth being aware of.

In other words, the beat goes on. This is a great team we are watching. Let’s do the numbers thing.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Twenty Games In: These Capitals are The Team

Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

With roughly a quarter of the season gone and lots of great hockey already in the books, it’s time to take stock in the Washington Capitals. It’s a yearly tradition we call Twenty Games In because we’re not very creative.

There’s a lot of information in this article, so I’ll put the conclusion up top:

This is The Team.

Let me be precise. I don’t mean that in an obvious The name of the band is the Washington Capitals way; I mean it like this could be the team that does what no other Caps team ever could. We’re just twenty and change games into the season, but I think this is the best team this franchise has ever assembled.

Continue Reading

Tagged with: