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.
Through the first nine games of the season, defensemen for the Capitals have accrued 15 assists. That comes to 38 percent of the total number of assists for the entire team. All six d-men who have suited up for the Caps have gotten at least two assists; only six forwards can say that. Even Karl Alzner has gotten on the scoreboard, recording the only two goals scored by Capitals defensemen this season.
This has all been by design (minus Alzner scoring). Washington’s defensemen have been more active in the Capitals offensive game on the rush and in the zone. Barry Trotz has been stressing the need to work the puck from high-to-low in the offensive zone for his entire tenure in Washington, and he — along with assistant coach Todd Rierden — doubled down on that point in training camp.
Here are the three things I’ve noticed that have made the Caps defensemen more productive this season.
Lars Eller has scored his first goal as a Washington Capital. Early in the first period of Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers, Eller made a savvy deflection to beat Lundqvist.
The goal is noteworthy because it gives the Caps the lead and because it’s Eller’s first goal since joining Washington this summer, but mostly because — check out the great play by Brooks Orpik!
According to Tarik El-Bashir and Isabelle Khurshudyan, veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik was one of nine Caps players who failed the team’s initial skate test during the first day of training camp. Orpik could not beat the required skate times of 38, 41, and 41 seconds.
Other notable players who failed the test on Friday include Brett Connolly, Jakub Vrana, Garrett Pilon, and Jonas Siegenthaler.
It is hard to imagine Brooks Orpik left DC for the summer with anything more than a scowl on his face. The end of the season was tough for all the players and fans as well, but Orpik had to put a lot of blame on himself. Whether that blame was warranted or not is something that we will take a look at.
Welcome to the Brooks ballyhoo or bash fest. Both viewpoints are welcome.
Sunday afternoon, the Washington Capitals had a group outing at Nats Park to watch the Nationals take on the Miami Marlins. Tom Wilson, Brooks Orpik, Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt, and Karl Alzner all appeared to be in attendance with children. The Caps had a private suite.
Photo: Drew Hallowell
On Thursday, the Capitals gathered at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to discuss another season that ended prematurely. The players were more visibly emotional than in years past at the annual end-of-season confab with reporters, promising Stanley Cups to the fans and articulating their frustrations with plenty of “failures” and “sucks.”
The news, however, came in the form of injuries revealed publicly for the first time. Karl Alzner’s ailment was at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Referred to by Braden Holtby as the team’s most important player, Alzner missed most of the final game with a torn groin. He played just two shifts early in the second period before being pulled from the game.
“I know that the first four games of the series, I was just out there filling a spot, Alzner said. “I was out there and I was not hurting the team I don’t think, but I also wasn’t helping in winning in the game. That’s when you know you can still do things, but once I’m getting beat up the ice trying to chase a guy and not able to at least stay in battles, that’s when you know it’s time.”
He watched the Capitals penalty kill, a unit he normally plays big minutes on, give up two power play goals in 33 seconds after Brooks Orpik took a double minor for high-sticking. Later, Alzner sat helpless on the bench as the Penguins won it in overtime.
Two years ago, Brian MacLellan signed Brooks Orpik to a five-year deal because of the veteran defenseman’s “leadership and experience.” Tuesday night in Game Six, the 35-year-old Orpik took a four-minute double minor penalty for high-sticking.
The Penguins scored twice on the resulting power play.
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