How To Guarantee a Caps Win

mf8b6d5466cf05273a765eb28bf28db1aPhoto credit: Luis M. Alvarez

If you’re like me, you’ve tried everything. Not shaving. Wearing the same clothes. Wearing different clothes. Eating weird foods. Anything that you did before the Caps stopped winning — now you’re doing the opposite. Yet, they’re still losing, and unfortunately not much is going to change unless Ovechkin’s line does one thing: convert on every fourth scoring chance.

When the Great 8 is on the ice and the Caps convert on every fourth scoring chance, they are 6-0. When it falls under 25%, they have been 10-16. Take a look:

Scoring chance convert% W L W% Individual Pts per game
less than 25% 10 16 0.385 0.88
25% or more 6 0 1.000 1.67

Convert% is simply goals scored on chances when Ovechkin is on the ice.

I know this seems like a “duh” moment, since most Caps fans will tell you that “as Ovi goes so does the team,” but this isn’t just about Ovechkin. This is about Backstrom, Semin, Knuble, and anyone else who is on the ice with him. They need to get their heads out of their asses and get it done, at least on one out of every four of their chances.

Game on.

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Poof! Goes The Offense

Bruce Boudreau: Bummin'

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

Quite the depressing week. We don’t score. We got blown out. People are revolting. He-who-can’t-be-named is now front and center on our site. Despite it all, I still maintain we shouldn’t panic.

This week I am going to take a break from individual scoring chances and look at the team as a whole. I wrote over at WaPo that this is just a string of bad luck and wanted to go a little more in depth. As you probably know by now, I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. You can find the spreadsheet online that summarizes each week, and I promise I will get it up to date in the next few days.

First, I want everyone to see how the Caps have been converting their scoring chances to goals. Or rather how they haven’t. Convert percentage is simply goals-for divided by scoring chances-for. I’ll use a 10-game moving average to help smooth out the highs and lows. Period one on the chart is the average conversion percentage of games 1 through 10, while period two is the average of games 2 through 11, and so on. Stats from the Nov 27 game vs CAR are not included due to errors.

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Six-Game Losing Streaks Are Rare


Photo credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Losing seven to nothing is bad, but when it extends your losing streak to six games you have to ask: is it time to panic yet?

Sure, there are plays where the blueliners make you want to rip your hair out, but the scoring chances are there — the lighting of the lamp isn’t. So how often should a team as good average as the Washington Capitals lose six games in a row?

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Shutouts With Five Goals Against Are Rare

David Steckel skates away after another Devils goal.

How bad is bad? (Photo credit: Andy Marlin)

Getting shut out twice in three games is bad, but when they both involve giving up five goals against it is definitely no laughing matter. All teams, even Cup contenders, eventually have to pick up their socks, but how often does it get this bad?

In the last two years there have been 2,460 regular season games played. In that time a 5-0 shut out by the home team has happened only 12 times. The visiting team has accomplished this feat only five times, making five-zip shutouts as a whole rare birds indeed.

But how often should it happen against a team as good as the Washington Capitals?
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Who’s the best #8 seed for the Caps?


I posted on Twitter (in haste) that I would like to see the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs as the 8th seed, but upon further review, I’m not so sure.

I took a look at the Goals Finished/Goals Allowed for WSH, BOS, NYR and PHI, both on the road and at home, and came up with expected winning percentages for each team. I then used Log5 to predict the Caps chances of winning each game whether it is played at home or on the road.

The expected Win % for the Caps and their possible first round opponents:

  • WSH, .670 Home, .613 Away
  • BOS, .490 Home, .521 Away
  • PHI, .579 Home, .458 Away
  • NYR, .533 Home, .475 Away

For example, if the Caps meet Boston in the first round, Washington has an expected winning percentage at home of .670 while Boston is expected to have a win % of .521 on the road. Using Log5, we can determine that the Caps have a 65% chance of winning a game against Boston at the Verizon Center.

I then figure out the Caps’ win % based on every possible outcome of a 7 game series – and yes, that includes ALL possible combinations for a 7 game series (WWWW, WWLWW, WWWLLW, etc.).

Intuitively I wanted the Caps to face the Marc Savard-less Bruins in the first round, but based on the chances of the Caps winning against Boston in a 7 game series, I have changed my mind. Here’s why:

The Caps have a 78.1% chance of beating Boston in a 7 game series. Not bad, considering that they have a 77.44% chance of beating Philadelphia. But the best case scenario for the Caps, based on probability of winning, is meeting the New York Rangers in the first round – where the probability of winning a 7 game series is 79.25%.

(ed note: Excel gave me wonky %, which have been updated, however NYR remains the best possible opponent)

Will Ovechkin Reach the “Rocket” Richard Trophy?


Before his suspension, injury, and second suspension, Alex Ovechkin was easily on the way to getting the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the third time in his career. Since the Olympic break, the Russian Machine’s goal production has slowed, allowing the much-loved Sidney Crosby and the fresh-faced Steven Stamkos to catch him. On Sunday evening, Crosby scored two goals to take the lead with 47 goals. He now leads Ovie by 1 and Stamkos by 2.

With only a handful of games left in the regular season, can the Great Eight summon up the same magic he wielded from early in the season? RMNB contributor Fedor Fedin braved scary numbers to project how the remaining games will shake out.

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