Looking at Shots From the Blue Line

Greg Fiume

Photo: Greg Fiume

One of the biggest differences between the Caps under Barry Trotz and the Caps under Adam Oates is the role of defensemen in offense. In February, Alex Prewitt described that role like this:

Blue-liners in Coach Barry Trotz’s system hold the freedom to pinch inside the offensive zone, collapsing onto pucks along the boards to keep possessions alive, but they also are asked to do their fair share of long-range flinging.

Last week, I looked at how badly the Caps’ forwards other than Alex Ovechkin struggle to generate shot attempts. But with Prewitt’s insight on the role of defenseman in Trotz’s system in mind, here’s a look at shot generation from the Caps defensemen, from a bit of a different angle.

There’s a glossary at the bottom, so be sure to check that out if the chart doesn’t make sense. We’re going to look at what percent of the overall shot attempts by Caps defenders each regular blue liner takes, as well as how effective each defensemen is at getting his individual shot attempts through and getting them on net.

While we use shot attempts as a proxy for meaningful puck possession, this doesn’t mean that all shot attempts are of equal value during game play. Generally, an unblocked shot attempt is preferred to one that is blocked, and a shot on goal is preferred to a shot attempt that goes wide. With that in mind, here’s a look at the six Caps defenders who have a sample size worth looking at.

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Photo: @kuzy092

On Saturday, while taking part in an autograph signing in Laurel, Troy Brouwer made some news. Talking to the DC Sports Bog’s Ben Sumner, Brouwer revealed that Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s wife Nastia is pregnant.

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So great. (Photo: @annasleong)

Washington Capitals defensemen/bros-in-real-life Karl Alzner and John Carlson signed autographs for Caps fans in Silver Spring Thursday night. The event was held by Sport Chevrolet, that car dealership they did commercials for this season.

In these types of settings, athletes can be asked to sign some silly items. Example: reader Eric presented Alzner with a printed-out Words With Friends screenshot. Eric had pwned Alzner on the mobile game earlier in the year and wanted to immortalize the victory.

Instead of open-hand slapping the fan, which is what I would have done, Alzner obliged. He’s so nice. He’s really, really nice. Nicer than I.

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Photos: Washington Capitals

Friday morning, the Capitals released the design of their new Courage Caps hats and t-shirts. 100% of the proceeds benefit TAPS, a national organization that provides care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. The Caps say they’ve donated $486,261 to charity through the sale of more than 15,000 hats and nearly 7,000 T-shirts to fans. That’s awesome. Way to go, you.

What’s even cooler is that the team had a few players model some of the new gear this year, including Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, and Brooks Orpik. But I’m guessing – and this is just a hunch – that our readers are going to want to visually consume the Tom Wilson pixels.

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John Carlson Takes Puck Off the Side of the Head (GIF)

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Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson has been really good this year, so this is the last thing you want to see. As Carly tried to block Bryan Little’s shot, the puck ramped up off Carlson’s stick and struck him in the side of the head.

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This is Definitely Not John Carlson’s Goal (GIF)

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In the first period, John Carlson scored on a point shot off a face-off. Or so we thought.

The puck took about a half-second to reach the net, but when the footage is slowed down, you can see two Caps forwards may have got their sticks on it.

As the puck passes Troy Brouwer, it definitely ramps up off his stick.

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When word spread that six-year-old Bensten got hit by a car sledding late last week, one of the first players to wish him well publicly was Tom Wilson.

Wilson knows a thing or two about fighting, and before Washington’s game against Anaheim Thursday, the enforcer spoke to WUSA’s Surae Chinn and had some uplifting words for the young Caps fan.

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By the end of Saturday’s game against the Caps, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price hadn’t let in a goal since Tuesday, a shutout streak of 153:03. While Price was unbelievable against Washington, he proved the old adage that you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.

During the second period, the Caps rang the pipe three times, including twice in a span of 16 seconds. Joel Ward hit it first just 56 seconds into the period. Then, during a power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov sent a cross-crease pass to Alex Ovechkin who clanged a one-timer off the right post. Immediately after that, John Carlson would ring a shot off the left post.

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Photoshop by Ian Oland

While the Capitals and Red Wings were busy boring a mostly full Verizon Center, a sporting contest of greater import was taking place in the Boston suburbs. With a spot in the AFC Championship Game on the line, the 2013 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens took a 28-14 lead on the New England Patriots. With five minutes left in the game, however, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 35-31 lead and send the entire state of Maryland into Old Bay-seasoned tears.

After the Capitals’ 3-1 victory over Detroit, I caught up with Joel Ward, a massive Ravens fan. Though Ward scored in Washington’s 22nd victory this year, he become downtrodden when I brought up the game.

“I knew they were going to be tough,” Ward said. “I saw that they were up by a couple scores earlier on. Foxboro is a tough building. I can only imagine how they are feeling right now because it was such a battle with what they accomplished. I think a lot of people counted them out early on.”

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John Carlson Scores a Birthday Goal (GIF)

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Not-All-Star John Carlson scored a super-smart goal tonight. As the Caps skated into the Red Wings zone, Carlson joined the rush as his defender trailed the play.

Talented rookie Andre Burakovsky hit Carlson with a pass right into his wheelhouse. Carlson unleashed a one-timer low along the ice to beat Petr Mrazek five-hole.

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