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


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.



FenClose_bars_Game_72 YTD_possession_game_72


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

YTD_PDO_game_72 rolling_PDO_game_72

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.


YTD_percentages_game_72 rolling_percentages_game_72

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

YTD_ST_game_72 rolling_ST_game_72

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


YTD_PP_Shots_game_72 rolling_PP_Performance_game_72 rolling_PP_Shots_game_72

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

YTD_SH_Performance_game_72 YTD_SH_Shots_game_72 rolling_SH_Performance_game_72 rolling_SH_Shots_game_72

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

YTD_fenwick_score_game_72 rolling_fenwick_score_game_72

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

YTD_corsi_score_game_72 rolling_corsi_score_game_72

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

YTD_fenwickfor_score_game_72YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_72 rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_72 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_72

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

YTD_corsifor_score_game_72YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_72 rolling_corsifor_score_game_72rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_72

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




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.


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


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.





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



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:



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



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





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





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



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



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





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





Same stuff, different name.




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.


Capital Trends Game 54

So that Philadelphia game was…something. By something I mean something bad, very bad. Seriously, you’ll see throughout the graphs that it took just about every trend in the wrong direction. Those kinds of games suck. They suck even more when it’s to a team like Philadelphia, where they seemed to relish the opportunity to injure some of the Washington Capitals’ younger forwards. And they suck even more when the Caps had a chance to hop into a tie for first place in the division with a win. I want to add more toppings on the shit sundae that was that game by mentioning that it was also another failed attempt for the Caps to string together 4 consecutive wins. But enough about how terrible that game was.

The Caps have a nice little California road trip (with some fathers tagging along) up next. That road trip is never easy given the recent dominance of those 3 clubs. Follow that up with a tilt with the Penguins immediately after, and the Caps definitely could have used those 2 points. Oh well, let’s take a look at how the other 7 games pushed the data since the pre-ASG post.


They’re still soundly in the playoff picture, and actually still above the 100 point pace. But after that initial little losing streak following their tear, they’ve treaded water above the 100 point pace, so it’s not all bad. The top of the Metro has gotten crowded with teams boasting similar accomplishments though. God I hope we don’t see the Rags in the first round again.

FenClose_bars_Game_54 YTD_possession_game_54 rolling_possession_game_54

Well they had been stringing some nice possession games along when looking at the bar graph above. Then Philly happened. I wish that was the last time I would say that phrase, but I’m pretty sure you’ll see it again. It’s not worth getting worked up over the precipitous fall in the score-tied Corsi and Fenwick metrics. Those tend to be pretty constrained samples and can be subject to more wild swings than something like score-adjusted Fenwick, where the Caps have done well, hovering around 55% over the last several games.

YTD_PDO_game_54 rolling_PDO_game_54

I’ve made the comment before that even with the Caps’ fall down the PDO cliff, it’s nice to see them still picking up points here and there. But PDO itself is kind of useless, so on to the shooting and save percentage breakdown!

YTD_percentages_game_54 rolling_percentages_game_54

Yikes, shooting percentage came down in a big way. But Braden (and Grubi!) have done well to keep the Caps in the games, even if their offense is sputtering a little bit.

YTD_shots_game_54 YTD_ES_shots_game_54 rolling_shots_game_54 rolling_ES_shots_game_54

It’s really painful to see what a season-low in shots on goal can do the averages. There’s even a very noticeable tick down in the season cumulative data. That’s ugly. I would say that’s even more surprising that the even strength data isn’t more pronounced than the total shots, but then I remembered how anemic the power play looked against Philly. Man I wish that game didn’t happen.

YTD_ST_game_54 rolling_ST_game_54

Special teams aren’t looking so great the past two games. Bad enough to move the needle almost a whole percent in two games. Doesn’t sound like much, but it is this late in the season.

YTD_PP_Performance_game_54 YTD_PP_Shots_game_54 rolling_PP_Performance_game_54 rolling_PP_Shots_game_54

I’m actually really surprised the PPs/game data didn’t spike up more on the Philly game since they were gifted 6 man-advantages, but that’s due the 10-games prior and averaging it out. The Caps really weren’t getting a lot of penalties called in their favor 8, 9, and 10 games back. About that shot generation though…don’t think I need to say anything. If you watched, you know.

YTD_SH_Performance_game_54 YTD_SH_Shots_game_54 rolling_SH_Performance_game_54 rolling_SH_Shots_game_54

Yay a positive! The Caps are taking less penalties and limiting shots in a much more noticeable way (if you look at the data).

YTD_fenwick_score_game_54 rolling_fenwick_score_game_54

What is this I see? The Caps are actually better over the last 10 games with a 1 goal lead than they are when tied or even when they’re down a goal? What’s happening? Cue hysteria!

YTD_corsi_score_game_54 rolling_corsi_score_game_54

Not quite as noticeable with Corsi though. Still, they’re right on 50% for CF% when up a goal. And they’re above 50% for both tied and trailing a goal. Tied is coming back down a bit though.

YTD_fenwickfor_score_game_54 YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_54 rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_54 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_54

Boo that Philly game again. It’s like they didn’t want to shoot at Emery. Maybe he intimidated them, they all thought if they lit him up like last time he’d mug them, or someone else that didn’t want to fight? Or maybe they were just waiting for a shot since he was good enough to earn 3rd star last time they saw him.

YTD_corsifor_score_game_54 YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_54 rolling_corsifor_score_game_54 rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_54

Same stuff with Corsi. Although maybe just the tiniest bit muted compared to the Fenwick drop. Because, man the Caps were shooting wide of the net all day Sunday.


Alright, there you have it. The Caps are still holding a 100+ point pace without crazy high PDO, or special teams. If we just pretend like that Philly game never happened there’s a lot to like about this team going forward.


Capital Trends Game 46

So it’s the all star break, and there’s limited Caps’ coverage, because there’s limited Caps’ representation at Columbus. Which is a damn shame. So I’ll give a little coverage and update the plots with the most recent data. Things have cooled off for the Caps recently and they lost a little ground in the standings with their little skid prior to the ASG. Couple that with the tear the damn Rangers are on still and the Caps could find themselves in trouble in the future. Well they’ll be in trouble if they hope to still be playing in April.




They’re still looking likely to get into the playoffs if they can maintain the level of success  they’ve had up to this point for another 36 games. And that should be doable without any significant injuries or overcorrections, i.e. keep doing what they’re doing.

FenClose_bars_Game_46 YTD_possession_game_46 rolling_possession_game_46

At least possession is on the upswing. And that is encouraging. The Dallas game was a little rough. But that was also the second of a back-to-back. Also, it’s worth noting that the teams they’re running the possession up on aren’t the best in that regard. Nashville is certainly respectable. But, Philly, Edmonton, and Colorado are pretty bad in teh corsis. Oh well, at least they did what they were supposed to in that sense against “inferior” teams.

YTD_PDO_game_46 rolling_PDO_game_46

We all should have known a PDO crash would be coming soon. Even strength especially. I’m not saying they were unlucky in their losses (or wins even). But those extremely volatile percentages always seem to balance out. On a positive note, even though the Caps’ PDO crashed hard, they still saw themselves earn 5 out of 10 possible points over the last five games (corresponding to that sharp drop in ES PDO).

YTD_percentages_game_46 rolling_percentages_game_46

Both even strength shooting and save percentages have come down considerably over the last 5 games. I don’t want to blame the worst of the save percentage drop on Peters, but it does correspond with his start in Dallas. Granted the team didn’t do much to help him out in that game. Really would be nice the Caps didn’t seem to have so many back-to-backs on their schedule.

YTD_shots_game_46 YTD_ES_shots_game_46 rolling_shots_game_46 rolling_ES_shots_game_46

Not a fan of this data still. Strange that with the boost in possession, we’re not seeing a similar effect here. I wonder if the Caps aren’t as efficient with their shot attempts, e.g. more of them are missing or being blocked. Thankfully the Caps were a pretty elite team in outshooting their opponents earlier in the season and built up a nice cushion so we can still say over the course of the season they’re outshooting their opponent.

YTD_ST_game_46 rolling_ST_game_46

This one was actually a little surprising to me. I hadn’t really noticed the very apparent improvement on the special teams. Let’s take a closer look at both the power play and the penalty kill.

YTD_PP_Performance_game_46 YTD_PP_Shots_game_46 rolling_PP_Performance_game_46 rolling_PP_Shots_game_46

Well the Caps are getting even less power plays, but they’re generating more shots and shooting more efficiently lately. These are good things to see. But I gotta wonder why the zebras are swallowing their whistles so much for the Capitals.

YTD_SH_Performance_game_46 YTD_SH_Shots_game_46 rolling_SH_Performance_game_46 rolling_SH_Shots_game_46

Well the opponents are getting called a little less than they have been prior to the past 10 games, but the Caps are still getting about 1.5 less penalties called in their favor per game. At least their also limiting shots a bit more so, granted they’re doing so by blocking tons of shots apparently. This is definitely good. Couple that with a consistent shorthanded goalie and they can get their often criticized penalty kill to a more respectable status.

Now I did update my code so empty net data is no longer included, so the following score scenario data is a little more insightful.

YTD_fenwick_score_game_46 rolling_fenwick_score_game_46

Yay! The Caps aren’t horrid with a 1 goal lead anymore (relatively). They’re improving over the last several games when they have the lead and that’s good. They’re also looking much better when tied. But for some reason they’re not as dominant when trailing as they have been in the past. (These are all comments made by looking at the 10-game rolling data).

YTD_corsi_score_game_46 rolling_corsi_score_game_46

We can see the same trends with the Corsi metric too. So that’s good. But how are they doing in terms of event quantity, not percentage?

YTD_fenwickfor_score_game_46 YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_46 rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_46 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_46

The Caps seem to be limiting the opponents attempts a bit more lately. Even when they have a lead. That is a very encouraging sign. And when tied, both the events for and events against are heading in the right direction. I hope they can keep up these kinds of trends once they return to the ice.

YTD_corsifor_score_game_46 YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_46 rolling_corsifor_score_game_46 rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_46

More data if you like Corsi over Fenwick.


I can never put a bead on the Caps and how they do things. When the points are piling up the possession is slipping, but when the points are falling, the possession is climbing. Oh well, Caps gonna Caps.

I’ll take another look at things in another couple games.



Capital Trends Game 41

Alright, here we are at the halfway mark of the season. The Caps are firmly in playoff position currently, and if they were to clean up a few areas of their game, they could even make some noise in the playoffs. They may need to clean up a few ares of their game though if they want to hold their playoff spot. The Rangers, Blue Jackets, Panthers, and Bruins are all making things look uneasy, despite the Caps’ current hot streak.

First though, how the hell does Nicklas Backstrom have 0 all star game appearances? I would love to hear the argument made that he is not one of the best 10 centers in the league. I may not really care about the game or the result or even who is really selected. I just feel bad for Nicky, even though I’m sure he doesn’t care.


Well, that’s nice. Haven’t seen that kind of point pace in quite some time. They’ve been giving themselves some breathing room, but as I mentioned above, the Eastern Conference has a lot of teams playing really well right now. Things will be competitive once the Caps’ cool down.

FenClose_bars_Game_41 YTD_possession_game_41rolling_possession_game_41

The Caps are settling into what looks like their long term possession percentage, around 52.5% in just about all metrics. This is clearly leaps and bounds better than the goat rodeo of the last two seasons, but not quite as great as we all may have hoped. Or even as great as they could do with a few minor changes. Things like keeping Nate Schmidt in the lineup, and Burakovsky, and even Latta. Chimera could probably use some nacho time. And Latta and Wilson seem to have good chemistry on the ice (off the ice too if you watched the road to the winter classic). Simple things like lineup tweaks, and altering deployment patterns could make this team dangerous.

A side note about the possession data: I noticed a bug in my code that I haven’t corrected yet. I never realized NHL’s play by play data doesn’t differentiate between even strength and empty net data. So some of the data can be goosed a bit by empty net data when the leading team is just trying to weather an offensive onslaught from the trailing team.

Man this PDO bender is great…for now. It will come back down, understand that now. And try to not overreact when the Caps hit a small skid. But let’s take a look at what might be more likely to crash first.

It upsets me to say it, but I’m thinking Holtby might cool off a bit. He’s been playing phenomenally, and he’s definitely a good, if not great, goalie. But I’m not sure if he’ll continue to stop 19 out of every 20 even strength shots. At least not over the course of the rest of the season. He may have a few more nice stretches and move his season cumulative numbers up, but in the 10-game rolling data will probably see a bit of a drop next post. Especially if he doesn’t get some rest here soon.
YTD_ES_shots_game_41 rolling_shots_game_41 rolling_ES_shots_game_41

The graphs above illustrate a serious problem, and how a PDO bender like the Caps are on currently can mask this problem. The Caps really need to start shooting more. If things continue like this, the Caps will be back to a team that is outshot regularly. And teams that are outshot regularly don’t often see the playoffs, and if they do, they don’t see success.

YTD_ST_game_41 rolling_ST_game_41

I don’t really have anything to add to the special teams plots above. Nice to see them continue their good performance in high leverage situations. And they’re not doing so with lucky bounces.

YTD_PP_Performance_game_41 YTD_PP_Shots_game_41 rolling_PP_Performance_game_41 rolling_PP_Shots_game_41

Well, they’re starting to correct their little power play skid, but they’re not doing so by creating lots of shots. In fact something is contributing to a troublesome trend that is persisting for several games. They’re also starting to get less calls. I really don’t know what’s causing this. I really don’t believe it’s the return of Mike Green to the PP1 QB spot. We’ve all seen how deadly that unit can be. So either, teams are starting to figure out the Caps’ systems, or Forsythe, or someone else behind the bench has instructed the boys in red to do something different. 
YTD_SH_Shots_game_41 rolling_SH_Performance_game_41 rolling_SH_Shots_game_41

Not sure I like what’s going on with the penalty kill either. The shots allowed are continuing to stay well above what they were 11-12 games ago. And if they continue to allow 21 shots per 20 minutes of shorthanded ice time, vs the 15 they were allowing prior, they’ll be permitting the opponent a little less than 3 shots more per game if continue to give them 4.5 opportunities per game. I’d like to see the Caps limit the parade to the penalty box a bit, and to revert whatever change they made due to what I’m guessing was an overreaction to a few bad shorthanded performances.
rolling_fenwick_score_game_41YTD_corsi_score_game_41 rolling_corsi_score_game_41YTD_fenwickfor_score_game_41 YTD_fenwickagainst_score_game_41rolling_fenwickfor_score_game_41 rolling_fenwickagainst_score_game_41YTD_corsifor_score_game_41 YTD_corsiagainst_score_game_41 rolling_corsifor_score_game_41 rolling_corsiagainst_score_game_41

Feel free to look over the above plots and draw your own conclusions. I’m wary to since I haven’t corrected the inclusion of empty net data.


And finally, the point pace trace is pretty, but I’d rather see that coincide with improving, or at least consistent possession scores. Oh well, I need to continue to remind myself just how horrid this team looked last year in some of these same stats. It’s hard to though, because I’m starting to think I involuntarily tried to black those games out of my memory.

Well that’s all for now. Until next time (when I’ll have hopefully corrected the empty net bug).


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.