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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.