Capital Trends Game 36

I know I said see you in 2015, but I’m in the mountains with little to do, so I thought I’d do another post before the Winter Classic. So here on the eve of the Winter Classic, or I guess New Year’s eve if you prefer that denomination, let’s look at how the Washington Capitals are rolling. They have been doing well picking up standings points, but have they been doing so with solid performance in the background? Of this, I am less convinced. And with a powerful opponent in the Blackhawks tomorrow on national broadcast I’d like to know if the Caps are gonna embarrass us as fans.

So first things first, the good news:


The caps are doing well to stay in a playoff position. And have done so against some of the better teams the eastern conference has to offer. This is not something I want to overlook.

YTD_possession_game_36 rolling_possession_game_36

But, the possession has taken a dip over the last four games. The Pittsburgh game (seriously, how awesome was that game?) was the only one that had the Caps over 50% in both score-close metrics and score-adjusted possession. And their last game, in Nassau, they had one of their worst possession games of the year. You could look at the opponents in the recent games as an excuse, but if you want to take solace in that, then you should not watch tomorrow’s game. The Blackhawks are an awesome possession team.


Well, guess the Caps are a lucky team now. Hooray (?) It is likely that this will come back down, don’t expect the success to last if they don’t correct some of the other facets to their game. They are a skilled team, and a team that I think can sustain a better than average save percentage (because, Holtby) and therefore a >100 PDO.  With guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, and others, (and given their performance last year – and simultaneously hoping/expecting a bounce back in the percentages) the Caps should easily be an average shooting team. And that coupled with Holtby’s play should give them the capability to hold a PDO above 100. But let’s take a closer look at the breakdown in the percentages.


It’s almost like Holtby’s early season struggles weren’t indicative of his talent level. Weird, that. Seriously, he’s been a stud and one of, if not the best players on the team the past few games. He’s giving the Caps every chance to win he can. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the even strength save percentage climb more and even stay there.

YTD_ES_shots_game_36 rolling_shots_game_36 rolling_ES_shots_game_36

No shots for anyone! Don’t know what’s up with that, but there are just no shots going around for either the Caps or their opponents. At least during even strength, there seem to be less shots. The data for all situations doesn’t have the same kind of nosedive that the even strength shots are taking. I’ll look at how much of a swing we can see in the penalty kill and power play shot suppression and generation a bit later.


Honestly not much to discuss here, so let’s look at the breakdown between the power play and the penalty kill.

YTD_PP_Shots_game_36 rolling_PP_Performance_game_36 rolling_PP_Shots_game_36

I’ll just comment on the 10-game rolling trends because they highlight what’s going on in the season cumulative data on a more magnified scale in the recent games. At least the Caps are getting a lot more power play opportunities, but they have not been doing much with them. Both the power play shooting percentage and the efficiency have been tanking lately, with a < 15% effective power play that’s shooting < 12%. The shot generation isn’t there much either. It would almost seem as though with Mike Green back as the PP1 quarterback the unit is not as effective with creating shots or goals. But we’ve seen him as the PP1 QB before and during that time the powerplay was humming. So there is certainly something to keep an eye on here. It would seem as though they’ve been forcing more dump ins that carries, and are therefore having trouble getting set up.

YTD_SH_Shots_game_36 rolling_SH_Performance_game_36 rolling_SH_Shots_game_36

Some good things on the penalty kill, and some not so good things. The good things are mostly that they’re not giving up tons of goals against in spurts like they’ve been prone to do. The not so good are in the discipline department and the shot suppression department (the shots on net mores o than the other varieties). In addition to their opponents being penalized more often, the Caps themselves have been on the receiving end of the referees’ whistle, and more than their opponents still. One oddity to note is that even though the shots on goal allowed have spiked recently, the missed shots allowed and blocked shots haven’t been up as much. So their opponents have been peculiarly efficient when shooting the puck (but at least not with putting the puck in the net, just on net).

rolling_fenwick_score_game_36YTD_corsi_score_game_36 rolling_corsi_score_game_36

So the most notable trend lately when looking at the score scenarios, is that the Caps have not been as dominant when trailing as we had seen earlier in the season, but there was a small uptick in the tied performance, until they decided shooting isn’t a recipe for success when playing the Isles. But the season cumulative data is stabilizing, and we can get an idea for what kind of team they are when playing with or without a lead. It would appear that they are really not good when they have a 2+ goal lead, they are on the order of last year (boo) when they have a 1 goal lead, and they are respectable when tied, and a damn decent team when trailing.

YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_36 rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_36 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_36YTD_corsifor_score_game_36 YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_36 rolling_corsifor_score_game_36 rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_36

It is looking more and more like the Caps are the new Devils. The shot attempts against are coming down fast lately, which is good, but it’s also costing the Caps their shot attempts for. And that’s not great.


I’m not too fond of the way these lines are trending. The point pace is great, but it’s coinciding largely with a rise in the metric that is most volatile and unlikely to sustain. Meanwhile the two metrics that are often repeatable because they are more in line with talent level are coming down.

A solid test is tomorrow, on national television, against a great team. I’d love to see some more Eric Fehr magic. Anything to maybe give him another shot at 1RW, since I’m beginning to think Tommy could use a little time elsewhere in the lineup. Ok for real this time, I’ll see you in 2015.


Capital Trends Game 32

So the Caps have started to turn things around a bit as of late. They’re back into the playoffs picture (it is still early though so, hold that optimism). And while things don’t look as good as they did early in the season, there are things to like. Things like that savage goal Ovi had on Saturday, Carlson’s production, Mike Green hasn’t missed a game in 5, and Brooks Laich hasn’t sat in 11. Certainly there are things not to like too, and I’ll get into those as we uncover them in the data. I’ll leave the individual stuff to the better bloggers out there. If you need a place to check out try JapersRink, or RMNB. They have much more in-depth posts about how individuals and lines or d-pairings are performing. I’m just looking at the team-wide trends.

So here we go, let’s look at what’s changing.


Back into the thick of the playoff race at a 97 point pace – that should usually be good to get into the playoffs. And with the middling Metro division, they should almost certainly get in if they can sustain what they’ve done so far.




I’m not too pleased with what’s been going on over the past several games. They’ve been losing the even strength possession game more often than I’d like, and when they are winning, it’s not that dominant. Additionally, take into account the opponents lately. None have really been in top tier of the possession charts. Tampa is up there, and between the two games against them, the Caps have maybe come out even, which I guess can be a small conciliatory victory. But Columbus and New Jersey are not that impressive in that regard. Florida and Carolina are decent (remarkably – given recent years’ performance). But still, I’d like to see more of what we saw flashes of in the first 10-12 games.

YTD_PDO_game_32 rolling_PDO_game_32

Well, they certainly seem to be getting some of the bounces they were missing in the early portion of the season. I hope those in charge don’t take these good fortunes to mean they’re doing all the right things and whatever they’re doing is sustainable. It’s probably not. Let’s see if it’s the forwards or the goalie carrying the mail.

YTD_percentages_game_32 rolling_percentages_game_32

It looks to be a bit of both lately actually. Shooting percent is up, as is save percent, well at least even strength save percent is up. There’s a pretty big gap growing between the total save percentage and the even strength though. Curious if another one of those long stretches of solid PK that seem to be characteristic of the Caps (along with the short stretches that follow immediately after where it’s wretched) can close that gap, so there’s not such a disparity.

YTD_shots_game_32 YTD_ES_shots_game_32 rolling_shots_game_32 rolling_ES_shots_game_32

I don’t know what’s going on during 5’s, but I’m not sure I like it. They really seem to be sacrificing a lot of offense. I don’t know if this is due to the score of the games, since the Caps have had the lead a good bit in their recent games, or if they’ve changed their approach to be more of a low-event team like the Devils. But I’d prefer if they could limit the shots against without sacrificing the shots for. But I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it too if I’m a Caps fan.

YTD_ST_game_32 rolling_ST_game_32

Weird that they’ve been winning so much when they’re special teams seem to be in a free fall. The STI has dropped even more than last look. Let’s look at the power play and penalty kill in more detail.

YTD_PP_Performance_game_32 YTD_PP_Shots_game_32 rolling_PP_Performance_game_32 rolling_PP_Shots_game_32

Shot generation seems to have stabilized back to what the Caps have been posting regularly, their shooting percentage has just tanked quite a bit lately. So hopefully if it bounces back to what we all know they’re capable of, the Caps can string a few more wins together. It would be especially nice if this coincided with strong overall play as well, and that they don’t rely on it as they have in recent memory.

YTD_SH_Performance_game_32 YTD_SH_Shots_game_32 rolling_SH_Performance_game_32 rolling_SH_Shots_game_32

The season cumulative data doesn’t show much changing, but the 10-game rolling stuff is rather telling. I like what I see from the shot suppression, but maybe they’re relying too much on the shot blocking, since that Corsi isn’t really seeing the same suppression the other shot metrics are. The 10-game trace of the save percentage (and coincidentally the efficiency) has that roller coaster look. And as I mentioned earlier, the Caps seem to have long stretches of successful penalty killing, and then short stretches where it looks abhorrent. Let’s hope they’re on the beginning bookend of a strong stretch as they gear up for some of the stronger metro rivals on the ledger in the coming games.

YTD_fenwick_score_game_32 rolling_fenwick_score_game_32

YTD_corsi_score_game_32 rolling_corsi_score_game_32

The season YTD data is pretty stable, and there aren’t a lot of discernible patterns obvious to me. The 10-game data is kind of interesting. The Caps seem to be doing a bit better with a 1 goal lead lately, but if they have a 2+ goal lead things aren’t so rosy. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing the tied-score data taking a turn for the better.

YTD_fenwickfor_score_game_32 YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_32 rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_32 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_32

Uhh…I think the Caps are doing the defensive shell wrong. Shouldn’t they be limiting the shot attempts against when leading (ideally to protect that lead)? I guess there was really only one game that skewed that data – and that was because of a lack of data where they had a 2+ goal lead over the previous 10 games, but now it is coming back down, but damn, it is pretty bad still. At least they kind of corrected their aversion to shooting the puck when they had a 1 goal lead. And just for completion’s sake, here’s the Corsi data:

YTD_corsifor_score_game_32 YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_32 rolling_corsifor_score_game_32 rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_32

I guess there’s not really much to comment on here after commenting on the Fenwick side. It’s good that they seem to bringing the shot attempts against down when they have the lead, even if it means the shot attempts for come down (that essentially should be expected). It’s bad that they are playing like the Sabres when they have a 2 goal lead though.


I like the direction of that black line (point pace), I don’t like the direction of that blue line (score-close Fenwick).

And now this:


We should all take a second to realize and appreciate how good at hockey Ovi is. We’re lucky to get to watch him play every game he does. Amidst all the vitriol and hate he receives from the “experts”, we may feel motivated to defend the other elements of his game and we don’t get to fully appreciate how good he is. And good, he is. So is Nicky. God I want those two to win a cup together.

Until next time. Happy holidays folks! See you in 2015.


Capital Trends Game 25

I’ll openly admit I’ve not been watching the games very much recently (maybe half of them). This team has been maddeningly mediocre. Things looked so promising not so long ago, but something is different. Let’s see if there’s anything discernible in the trends to back this up.

As always any conclusions drawn are from the data. I’m not going off of what I think is happening from my subjective recollection of watching the games. There are far smarter folks than I that do that.


I guess, since the last post, things are looking a little better. Aside from that away game against the Isles. That one was ugly.

YTD_possession_game_25 rolling_possession_game_25

On the ten-game side of things they’re not looking great. The score-close metrics are the only ones that are above 50%. I bet if you take away the Buffalo game, they would be <50% in every category.

YTD_PDO_game_25 rolling_PDO_game_25

Can’t really blame everything on bad luck anymore. They’re still not getting lucky by any stretch, but there have been worse percentages for better teams.

YTD_percentages_game_25 rolling_percentages_game_25

The even strength save percentage is separating itself from the total save percentage in a hurry, and I bet you can guess why. We’ll see the breakdown of the penalty kill in a bit, but spoiler alert: it’s that. Lately though, the shooting percentage is troubling. They’re sitting at an even strength shooting percentage of 6.3% and a total shooting percentage of 7.2%. Those numbers are pretty bad. Granted the Kings have made them work…but the Caps are no Kings.

YTD_shots_game_25 rolling_shots_game_25

Something definitely looks troubling regarding the shots against allowed. Ever since their home game against Calgary, their shots against looks like Apple’s stock circa 2012. I would include the away game against Calgary as the point where things changed for the worse, but there wasn’t enough data to rely upon. Looking at the rolling data, they don’t seem to be shooting as much. If this continues, and if Mike Green stays injured, I may need to highlight his absence. It could be something telling.

YTD_ES_shots_game_25 rolling_ES_shots_game_25

Even strength shots are following the same trends. There really does seem to have been a change in systems or advice, given the stark rise in Shots against. Maybe Trotz had an overreaction to the early season defensive gaffes and is trying to force the defense to give up more shots “to the outside” vs just straight suppression.

YTD_ST_game_25 rolling_ST_game_25

Uh oh. Special teams ain’t so special anymore. Still above 100% for the year, but lately a ~90% STI is something that can bounce a team from the playoffs, provided things get chippy. And they always do.

YTD_PP_Performance_game_25 YTD_PP_Shots_game_25 rolling_PP_Performance_game_25 rolling_PP_Shots_game_25

Well it doesn’t look like the power play is the culprit to the special teams index taking a nosedive. But damn, the Caps are not drawing many penalties lately. Less than 2 per game. That could attribute to the dip in shot generation. They could be struggling to get in a rhythm on the power play. Or maybe Mike Green is good at hockey and they’re missing him in more than one area.

YTD_SH_Performance_game_25 YTD_SH_Shots_game_25 rolling_SH_Performance_game_25 rolling_SH_Shots_game_25

Ugh. That is ugly. They may not be getting penalized a lot in the very recent past, but that hasn’t mattered. They’re giving up a lot more shots than they typically do, and they’re getting worse goaltending to coincide with that perfectly shitty storm. Look no further for the cause of their two last losses. That may be hyperbole, they weren’t great in the other areas of those games either, but this is horrid.

YTD_fenwick_score_game_25 rolling_fenwick_score_game_25

Notice that really awful drop in FF% when up by 2 or more goals? Yeah, you know the cause of that? It’s because they have only had a lead of 2 or more goals once in the last 10 games. And they didn’t do well with that lead as can be seen. I’m not going to focus on that too much, because that was honestly one of their best games of the season (the win against the Isles at home). Well, it was if you discard the first 10 and last 1.5 minutes of the first period. But they’re still a woefully boring team when they have the lead. Fortunately, they haven’t had the lead a lot lately ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

YTD_fenwickfor_score_game_25 YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_25rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_25 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_25

This too makes me think systems or something is different. Since the Edmonton game (game 6) they went from allowing 24 Fenwick events per 60 minutes of tied ice time, to 32.7 Fenwick events per 60 minutes of tied ice time. That’s an increase of almost 35%. That’s significant. Whatever changed, they need to undo it.

And then here are a bunch of other plots you can look through and draw your own conclusions.

YTD_corsi_score_game_25 rolling_corsi_score_game_25 YTD_corsifor_score_game_25 rolling_corsifor_score_game_25 YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_25 rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_25

And then here’s how they’re looking if you’re curious about them making the playoffs already.


I call it: bad. And now to look at 4 things in one plot!


Things have leveled out a bit. Not all in a good way. I’d expect the STI to come back up, maybe the PDO will return to give a sweet little win streak. But now there seems to be things that are systemically wrong. And the players on the ice are doing the same old Caps things (I thought Orpik was supposed to stop those – that’s why they overpaid him).