Understanding 5v5 hockey using shot attempts starts with a number: 50 percent. That is even possession– one for the other team, one for your team, repeat. If your team is above 50 percent, you’ve either denied your opponent some attempts or you’ve managed to create a few extra of your own. Being “in the black,” with a possession number above 50 percent is a sign of an above-average team.
The Capitals are above 50 percent. They’re a 52-percent team– or just about. But I’m not so sure they’re truly or significantly above average. And it’s Buffalo’s fault, dammit.
If you ignore the Sabres (using some sloppy, back-of-napkin math), then the league’s average isn’t 50 percent– it’s more like 50.4 percent. And over on Puckon.net, the median teams have around 51.2-percent score-adjusted possession. It’s like grade inflation for hockey– making the Caps look just a bit better than they are because they, just like everyone else, got to beat up on the worst possession team of the modern era (and maybe longer; I’d love to know the 74-75 Caps’ shot-attempt differential.)
That has nothing to do with what’s in this week’s snapshot, but I thought it was curious.
What’s actually in this week’s snapshot: the Caps have really good young players, but are they fast enough for the Islanders?