Come! Hug me, for I am an anteater! (Photo: Alex Brandon)
Kevin Klein at Japers Rink wrote a piece about the correlation between puck possession during close games (measured in unblocked shot-attempt percentage) and success. It’s compelling stuff. Here’s my own version of that research.
Since 2009 and excluding the short season, the top five teams in the league based in the standings control an average of 53.1 percent of unblocked shot attempts. Below them, the solid playoff teams (ranked 6 through 10) get about 51.5 percent of the shot attempts.
Teams 11 through 15 get 50.5 percent and teams 16 through 20 get 49.2.
The not-so-good teams own just 48.3 percent of shot attempts. The bottom-5 teams, who are basically your draft lottery teams, get 47.2 percent.
Last season the Caps most closely represented a draft lottery team. This year, with 54.25 percent possession according to fenwick-stats.com, the Caps look more like a Stanley Cup contender.
That doesn’t mean they are one; the season is still way too young. In the coming weeks we will learn for sure. In the meantime, next time save percentages throw the Caps into a five-game slump, look back at that chart and remind yourself that the Caps climbed from the far right to the far left in just five months.