Trends

Capital Trends Game 72

10 games remaining in the season. That means probably another two of these posts checking in on how the Caps are performing, and investigating if there are any troubling patterns in the recent play. With a difficult remaining schedule, the next 10 games might be very telling of what to expect out of this team in the playoffs (provided they make it). Most of the remaining opposition are playoff-bound teams, and there’s that weird thing about the playoffs, where you’re going to play good teams.

Let’s get to it.

Playoff Pacing


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Almost exactly where they were 5 games ago. Just a touch above a 100 point pace. They should definitely be in the playoffs with 100 points. They were able to tread water over the last 5 games, despite some decent opposition. The Rangers, Bruins, and the Wild are some tough teams, and the Stars are better than their record would indicate, I believe. Obviously Buffalo isn’t a good team this year – and fortunately for the Caps. That game would have been a loss if it were any other team given the Caps’ performance in that game.

 

Possession


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Possession is swinging up quickly over the last 3 games. And that’s even with 2 out of 3 teams in the top half of score adjusted possession. Winnipeg should be a good test tonight. If Nate Schmidt can convince Barry to stay in the lineup that too should boost the possession numbers in the coming games. I would like to see Kuzya with some more skill on his line though, he seems to be playing really well lately and could probably serve the Caps better if he were skating with someone not hindering him (spoiler: I’m talking about Brouwer, not Glenncross – I have nothing but good things to say about that guy right now).

 

PDO & Percentages


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Ho-hum here. As usual, PDO doesn’t really tell us much. Caps are still maintaining an above average PDO – but I’ve mentioned before that this shouldn’t be alarming nor should people call it unsustainable. The Caps have the talent to hold higher than league average percentages, I feel. But let’s look at the components.

 

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Save percentage rising, and shooting percentage falling. I guess that could throw up some red flags, but in my rose-colored glasses, they’re good red flags. I’d honestly expect the shooting percentage to maybe rise a bit in even strength. Again – the offensive talent this team has should be able to maintain better than 7% even strength shooting. We all know Holtby can maintain the even strength save percentage we’re seeing. Well it may come down a bit, but I’d be surprised if it takes a nosedive. With these kinds of percentages, and winning the possession battle, we should definitely expect the Caps to win more games than they lose in the remaining 10 games. But, we’re Caps fans, and we can never actually expect that kind of thing.

 

Special Teams: Summary


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Things have been pretty volatile in the rolling 10-game special teams’ performance. The Caps really do seem to be feast or famine in the special teams department. Although they’re right in the middle of the most recent feasts and most recent famines, so I don’t know where they’re going from here. I guess let’s look at the power play and penalty kill individually.

 

Special Teams: Power Play


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I still like what I’m seeing in this data. The shot generation looks to have peaked, but if it can sustain that level of production, that can only mean good things. 2.5 shots per power play opportunity is certainly a luxury. Because, well let’s face it, the Caps are not getting the beneficial calls lately. Which is clear in the average power play opportunities per game being at its lowest in months. As I transition into the penalty kill, it’s worth noting the rather large spike in the power play conversion rate, and contrast it to the rather stagnant STI. So we can probably expect some less than desirable trends on the other side of the special teams.

 

Special Teams: Penalty Kill


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Actually, not what I was expecting. Kind of pleasantly surprised honestly. There was that awful example in Dallas, even though there wasn’t anything systemically different apparent. I hope we see more of the recent trend in the discipline arena. Although, I could do without Brouwer repeatedly cross checking a player when the Caps are up 2 goals. That kind of crap will bite you in the ass more often than it won’t.

Well, the current 10-game rolling data suggests the Caps will net a positive shot differential from special teams alone. So, just don’t piss off the refs or do stupid, ill-advised garbage after/before the whistle in hopes of skewing the opportunities heavily in the opponent’s favor. Looking at you Chimera, Brouwer, and our supposed veteran leadership.

 

Fenwick Percentage: Score State


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The Caps are slowly digging themselves out of the hole they were in back since the last Hurricanes game. Tied performance is much better, but the rest of the score scenarios are a bit mercurial. Funny to note currently that the best the Caps are in terms of unblocked shot attempts is when they’re up by 2+ goals. More of that scenario please.

 

Corsi Percentage: Score State


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Well the Caps are positive in total shot attempt percentage over the last 10 games, no matter the score state, except for the dreaded 1 goal lead. So as long as they get the lead and immediately expand upon it, they’re all good.

 

Fenwick Rates: Score State


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Tied unblocked shot attempts are doing the right things in both directions of the ice. That’s about all I have to glean from these charts. Although it is interesting that the Caps shoot the puck more when they’re tied than when they’re down 1, and they allow more shots when they’re tied vs when they’re up 1. Little things amuse me.

 

Corsi Rates: Score State


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Some of the same stuff, but nothing really unique worth commenting on. So let’s close this  thing out.

 

Summary


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Summary? Things are pretty level where they are. We have a good picture of the Washington Capitals. A positive possession team, with enough offensive and goaltending talent to sustain better than league average percentages, and a team that can be pretty volatile in special teams. Those elements currently add up to a 100 point pacing team in probably one of the stronger divisions in the league this year. They also mean that a playoff series for this team could very well be decided by officiating or a hot or cold streak on either special team. So…par for the course for Washington Capitals playoffs in recent memory.

Make sure to pay attention to the remaining 10 games, and I’ll try to check back in after the next Carolina game, right before a murderous season-ending stretch.

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Trends

Capital Trends Game 67

RMNB had me on to do one of these a couple of weeks ago, so that is why there’s a large gap since the last one on here. Since then (@CAR – BUF) things are looking a little better. At least when you start digging down into the process. But then again, they damn well should be given the quality of their opponents. Carolina, Toronto, Columbus, and Buffalo aren’t exactly setting the league on fire. Unless you use that metaphor a bit more negatively.

Well, let’s see what’s trending up and what’s trending down. Again, if most things aren’t trending up after the tank fleet, there should be cause for concern – a lot of concern.

Playoff Pacing


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A bit of up and down since the Pittsburgh game. Thankfully the up came though, because the three games preceding the “up” were each the worst game of the season. So a pretty bad three game stretch (Flyers, Pens, Canes) there.

Possession


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Thank god for the tanking teams. That possession trend is atrocious leading up to the Toronto game. The remaining schedule for the Caps won’t be as kind. Especially with 3 games coming up against their likely first round opponent – the Rangers. Those games should be telling, even if they’re missing Green and Nicky. I kind of wish I had the opportunity to watch more of the games during their possession slide, not because it would have been enjoyable, but because I could maybe have more insight into why they looked so terrible.

PDO & Percentages


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There’s been a bit of separation between the total PDO and even strength lately. Something to indicate that maybe the Caps are getting a bit more lucky on special teams than during 5v5. Neither metric hints that they’ve actually been unlucky at all though – actually the opposite. At least the PDO bender came back down though without slapping the Caps out of a playoff spot. So, small miracles?

But on to the more telling percentages:

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Well that discrepancy is definitely more noticeable here in the 10-game average shooting percentage. The even strength shooting percentage is almost 25% less than the total (10% reduced to 7.5%). Holtby is still a stud though, and quite impressive with PK numbers in the mix as well.

Special Teams: Summary


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I never really have much to say on these plots. The special teams have been steadily climbing though, so that is good. Let’s look at each scenario more closely.

Special Teams: Power Play


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Nothing but good stuff here. The only small negative is that there are less opportunities lately. But overall the trends on the power play are promising. There’s been a huge spike in blocks and misses though, I wonder if that is an artifact of having Carlson man the point. With that big boom in Corsi, the shots themselves haven’t recovered as much though. But they’re definitely moving in the right direction, and it’s not hurting the conversion rate either.

Special Teams: Penalty Kill


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Nothing bad from the penalty kill, nothing really all that good either. I’ll disregard the dip in shots allowed because of the Buffalo game. I think Hershey’s power play unit could do a better job than the Sabres. The kill has been humming along around 85% effective (across a 10-game moving average) for the past 30 games, so I guess that’s something good. Maybe they’ve grasped the system and can settle into a 85% kill team, and couple that with their 25% power play, look out. That’s good.

Fenwick Percentage: Score State


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I still really dislike that black line. And now the dark blue dashed line is joining in on the fun below the 50% line. It’s strange that the current 10-game averages in each state have a maximum separation from the others of less than 10%. And that’s the difference from the percent when leading by 2 or more goals vs the percent when leading by 1 goal. And the 2+ leading data is higher than all the other score states. So, let’s see the Caps have a 2+ goal lead all the time! Seriously though, I have nothing to infer from this, other than the 1 goal leading Caps from earlier in the season are making a comeback. Also – up is down, dogs and cats living together, etc.

Corsi Percentage: Score State


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More of the same confusing trends. Except at least in Corsi, the Caps are better when they’re down in score…for now.

Fenwick Rates: Score State


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I’m running out of things to say. Since there was really no discernible trend in the percentages the rates follow suit. Except there is a troublingly clear increase in the unblocked shot attempts the Caps are allowing when they have a 1 goal lead. Less noticeable with 2 goals though, so again, let’s just hope they can continue going up 2 on their opponents.

Corsi Rates: Score State


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Same stuff, different name.

Summary


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Well there are your Washington Capitals, 67 games in. 15 games left to go. Hopefully they can keep up their solid special teams play of late. But I’d trade a dip in that to correct some of their possession woes. There’s a lot more 5v5 play in the playoffs than special teams. Maybe the new guys can help out in the even strength possession department, but I wouldn’t count on it. It may take the remaining 15 games for the lines to jell and for the skaters to form any noticeable chemistry, given Barry’s penchant for shuffling lines. So, just in time for the playoffs.

Oh well, I’ll check in again in another 5 games or so and see how things are shaking out. After some tougher opposition.

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