The Washington Capitals have reached the twenty-game mark, which is my completely arbitrary threshold that have to be reached earlier than I’m prepared to start out making conclusions in regards to the staff.
So this is my conclusion: Of us, they’re actually dangerous. Let me hint how I bought there.
I’ve tried half a dozen approaches to this story over time. This time, I will use as few arcane numbers as potential. We’ll do it by Washington’s rank throughout varied stats in varied recreation states.
However first, the standings.
With a 7-10-3 document, the Capitals are second worst of their division. Their factors proportion ranks twenty fifth within the league, in firm with Chicago, Vancouver, and Arizona. If the playoffs had been to start out in the present day, the Capitals can be like “wtf mate, I believed we had 62 extra video games.”
That is, objectively, a dismal scenario for Washington, however this train is about going ranges deeper. So observe me down.
This is the place the Capitals rank at varied offensive occasion charges.
- Makes an attempt: thirteenth
- Anticipated objectives: twenty fourth
- Scoring possibilities: twenty first
- Excessive-danger possibilities: twenty first
- Objectives: twenty fourth
To my gentle shock, Washington’s course of stats for offense have ticked up over the previous three seasons. They are not getting a large amount of hazard per shot, however even anticipated objectives have risen. The place all the pieces goes incorrect is ending.
From HockeyViz, here’s a heatmap of Washington’s offense in comparison with league common. Crimson blobs imply the Caps shoot extra from that location.
The Caps are used to a five-on-five capturing proportion between 9 and ten. Proper now it is 7.9. Failure to complete – both attributable to dangerous luck or inferior capturing expertise – is the primary driver of Washington’s depressed scoring throughout even power. The Caps have scored 2.4 objectives lower than what fashions would anticipate primarily based on the profile of their offense, however that is traditionally been an undercount for this staff. Rating twenty first within the league in capturing proportion should not ordinarily be trigger for alarm, however for a staff that has relied on elite ending as a lot as Washington, it is virtually deadly.
This is the place the Capitals rank at varied defensive occasion charges. On this case, the Caps are ranked by their opponents’ charges, the place decrease is best.
- Makes an attempt: 18th
- Anticipated objectives: twentieth
- Scoring possibilities: seventeenth
- Excessive-danger possibilities: 18th
- Objectives: sixteenth
The image is drearier on the defensive facet of the ice. The Caps of 2022-23 is the worst defensive staff of the final six years (a span that covers their elite 2017 season, their uneven 2018 marketing campaign on the best way to the Cup, and the next Reirden-coached letdown).
From HockeyViz, here’s a heatmap of Washington’s protection in comparison with league common. Blue blobs imply opponents shoot much less from that location.
Goaltending shouldn’t be the issue, although Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren haven’t distinguished themselves both. The five-on-five save proportion of .916 is an identical to the staff’s full-season numbers within the prior two seasons, throughout the Samsonov-Vanecek diumvirate. Lindgren and Kuemper have saved a modest 1.8 objectives greater than we would anticipated primarily based on the hazard and quantity of opponent offense.
The result’s that the Capitals find yourself within the backside third of the league all the pieces however uncooked shot-attempt possession (seventeenth, with 50.4 %) and scoring possibilities (18th, with 49.3 %).
Stepping other than uncooked stats, my basic impression is that Washington’s systemic downside is transitioning from protection to offense. Defend-to-forward puck motion within the defensive and impartial zones is underwhelming, and Washington’s means to realize the offensive zone with possession suffers – both consequently or as a associated phenomenon.
Alright, this half goes to suck. Beginning with the facility play, listed here are ranks:
- Energy-play makes an attempt: twenty fifth
- Energy-play anticipated objectives: twenty fifth
- Energy-play conversion fee: twenty fourth
The Capitals energy play is fraught. To succeed it will depend on Alex Ovechkin to defy our understanding of the game. If he cannot try this – or if he cannot get fed a clear darn cross – then Washington is inert.
The issue, I feel, begins within the impartial zone. In accordance with All Three Zones, just one staff within the NHL carries the puck in to the offensive zone much less usually: the twenty eighth ranked Philadelphia Flyers.
Now onto the penalty kill. Once more, these are Washington’s rank at limiting the charges of opponents:
- Penalty-kill makes an attempt: twenty sixth
- Penalty-kill anticipated objectives: twenty sixth
- Penalty-kill conversion fee: fifteenth
This one had me scratching my head for some time. My imprecise impression had been that the Caps had a good penalty kill. Seems not a lot. Their propensity for blocking may have been a clue. They block extra (by fee) than each staff besides Tampa and Vegas, the seventh highest quantity of blocks in proportion to tried pictures.
The penalty kill is permitting a ton of pictures, a ton of hazard, and have simply mediocre goaltending. And in contrast to with five-on-five and power-play issues, I am not optimistic reversion to well being alone will sort things right here.
Hoo boy, that was bleak.
The Capitals are indisputably a foul hockey staff. They deserve their place within the standings. Their protection is dangerous; their offense is worse; their particular groups are in disarray. And whereas, certain, dangerous luck explains some fraction of the frustration, the staff’s hope that their return to watchability will come robotically with Dmitry Orlov, Tom Wilson, and TJ Oshie seems like a stretch to me.
And but I am nonetheless inclined to grant them a whole lot of latitude about accidents and their very tough schedule. How a lot, I am undecided. However now I’ve departed from the realm of portions and into the realm of emotions. So I will flip it over to you: how are you feeling?
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Headline picture: Alan Dobbins/RMNB, Capitals