Author Archives: Pat Holden

Alex Ovechkin’s Top 5 Goals

By now, you’ve likely all seen Alex Ovechkin’s goal last night against the Devils. It got me thinking where that goal ranks among his career best.

For my Top 5, I didn’t consider the importance of the goal, but simply how impressive the goal was outside of the context of the game it was scored it. So, for example, his first playoff goal, the GWG against the Flyers that had my brother-in-law and I running up and down the aisles of Verizon Center, didn’t make the cut.

Here’s my top 5.

5) 11/20/2014 vs. Colorado Avalanche

4) 4/24/2009 vs. New York Rangers (I had forgotten about this one s/t to .)

3) 12/20/2014 vs. New Jersey Devils 

2) 2/18/2009 vs. Montreal Canadiens 

1) 1/16/2006 vs. Phoenix Coyotes (duh) 

I think the first two are locks but there are definitely a few goals that were hard to cut out. What are your top 5 Ovechkin goals?

Caps at Blue Jackets #fancystats (and beyond) Recap

The Caps beat the Jackets 5-4 in OT. The Caps had the better of the even strength shot attempt battle, 49-31

Even strength shot attempt chart:


-Ovechkin led the Caps with a +18 on-ice shot attempt differential

-Fehr had the worst shot attempt differential at -4

-Ovechkin was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (24)

-Niskanen was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (13)

-Green and Schmidt faced the toughest zone starts, starting 0% of shifts in the offensive zone (MORE ON THIS BELOW!!!)

-Brouwer and Wilson faced the easiest zone starts, starting 100% of shifts in the offensive zone

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster, update: 0% ZS% +6 in shot attempts

-ATTENTION: Nate Schmidt and Mike Green started 0% (Z-E-R-O) of shifts in the offensive zone and were +6 and +8, respectively, in on-ice shot attempt differential


-Mike Green was brilliant on the game tying goal. He broke up a scoring chance in the Caps zone and, in the blink of an eye, was off to the races. He then rushed it end to end and his pass banked in off of Brouwer’s skate. NBD. Re-sign that guy

-Green’s assist on the game winner was okay, too.

-The fact that the Blue Jackets didn’t score during Carlson’s penalty in the 2nd period doesn’t make the penalty any less stupid

-Great first period by the Caps. The first line kicked it off with a dominant shift, much like they did in Tampa last week

-Since when does Karl Alzner activate aggressively and score goals?

All stats from

Three Caps Numbers: Free Agent Signings Over the Past Thirty Days

Niskanen copy

Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography


Matt Niskanen’s on-ice shot attempt differential in Saturday’s game vs. Tampa, which was -36.4% relative to his team. Niskanen was on the ice for 5 Caps shot attempts and 25 Tamps shot attempts. Niskanen’s relative shot attempt differential over the past month before that game was -0.8%. After the Tampa game? -3.5%, which ranks 57th out of the 69 defensemen to have played 200+ minutes over that span.  Beware of small sample sizes.


The difference in total shot attempts that go in the Caps favor when Brooks Orpik is on the ice vs. when he’s off the ice over the past 30 days. This ranks 40th out of the 69 defensemen to have played 200+ minutes over that span. It remains to be seen if Orpik’s play has stabilized or this this is just a temporary improvement.  Over the entire season, Orpik’s relative shot attempt difference is -4.1%, which ranks 70th among the 78 defensemen to have played 450+ minutes during that time. Neither number is great, but Orpik’s play over the past month has been a bit easier to stomach.  


Justin Peters’ unadjusted save% over the past 30 days. This ranks 53rd of the 65 goalies to have played at least 1 period during that time. Peters has played just 40 minutes over the past 30 days. Despite his unsteady play, it’s unfair and premature to make much of a conclusion about Peters’ play during his time in Washington because he’s played so sparingly. Of course, he likely would have played more if he had performed better, but his sample size as a Caps goalie isn’t one that much meaning should be taken from. I’m still fine with the Peters signing

Caps at Panthers #fancystats (and beyond) Recap

The Caps lost to the Panthers 2-1 in a shootout that went 843 rounds and featured a ridiculous dangle by Brooks Orpik. What a weird night. The Panthers had more 5v5 shot attempts, 43-41.

5-on-5 shot attempt chart:


-The 5v5 sample from this game was just over 53 1/2 minutes.

-Eric Fehr led the Caps with a +7 on-ice shot attempt differential

-Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the worst shot attempt differential at -9. Linemate Troy Brouwer was just behind at -8. Time to break up the second line. Nothing doing there for too long.

-Further on that point, those 3 forwards had 1 total shot attempts between the 3 of them (Kuznetsov).

-Alex Ovechkin had the most individual shot attempts with 6

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 50% ZS% an even 0 in on-ice shot attempts


-Mike Green’s turnover on Florida’s first goal is inexcuseable. But why was he so surpsied by the aggressive forecheck? It was as if none of his teammates hollered that he had pressure bearing down on him.

-Jason Chimera, scratched last game due to taking a dumb penalty that comes his team a game, returned to the lineup. He took a dumb penalty that negated a Jay Beagle breakaway.

-That shootout was, well, long. But, wow, that Orpik goal.

All stats from War on Ice

With or Without You: Nate Schmidt Continued Strong Play During Mike Green’s Injury


Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Nate Schmidt has been a solid NHL player since making his debut last season. The Caps see 2.8% more of overall shot attempts with Schmidt on the ice than when he’s off the ice, which is fourth best of all Caps players to have played 500+ 5v5 minutes in that time (behind only Dmitry Orlov, Mike Green, and Alex Ovechkin).

Schmidt has benefited from playing 47.5% of his 5v5 minutes with Green, who is a great possession player, as his defensive partner. In the minutes when Schmidt is on the ice with Green, the Caps have seen 53.7% of all shot attempts. In the minutes Schmidt is on the ice without Green, the Cap see 48.3% of all shot attempts.

Is Schmidt actually a below average possession player who Green covers up for?

Over half of Schmidt’s minutes come from last season, when the Caps were a sub-par possession team under Adam Oates. The majority of his minutes away from Green also came under Oates. However, Green’s recent injury gave us a look at whether Schmidt can still be a driver of possession when separated from Green and playing on a competent possession team (unlike the incompetent possession team Schmidt was on last season).

In the seven games Mike Green missed, the Caps saw 4.3% more of total shot attempts with Nate Schmidt on the ice than when he was off the ice. This is first among all Caps defenders during this time and second only to Joel Ward (+12.5%) among all Caps players.

You can argue that Schmidt played minutes that were even more sheltered than normal with Hillen as his partner, but there’s plenty of counter evidence as to why zone starts and quality of competition don’t impact possession numbers as much as we might think.

Nate Schmidt continues to develop into a very effective defenseman. While he certainly benefits from often playing with an elite possession player such as Green, there is reason to believe Schmidt can hold his own with or without Green as his defensive partner.

Kevin from Japers Rink had a good piece on Schmidt yesterday

All stats from War on Ice and Hockey Analysis 

What Will it Cost to Re-sign Marcus Johansson?

Mojo_2 copy

Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Marcus Johansson is currently in his 5th NHL season. Johansson is in the second year of a 2 year, $4 million deal and is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Johansson is also having somewhat of a breakout season, as his nine goals in twenty nine games have him on pace to easily surpass his career high of 14 set in 2011-12.

So, what will it cost the Caps to re-sign Johansson?

To help gauge this, I’m going to take a look at some players who have put up similar numbers to Johansson during their first five seasons in the league. To start, here’s a list of forwards since 2009 that have, in their first five seasons, done the following:

1) played in 250 or more games

2) scored 40 or more goals

3) totaled 120 or more points

4) skated more than 4000 minutes

Marcus Johansson falls in this group. It’s important to note that Johansson’s numbers are incomplete, as they include this season. So, while the numbers will change between now and the end of the season, I’m looking at this in terms of extending Johansson now.

I’ve picked out a few players to help find a value for Johansson. The stats are for the players’ first 5 seasons.


Player GP G A P TOI/G Previous contract Contract Signed
Marchand 300 92 94 186 15.76 2yr/$5M 4yr/$18M Season 4
Ennis 267 69 97 166 17.09 2yr/$5.65M 5yr/$23M Season 5
Desharnais 257 50 113 163 16.51 2yr/$1.7M 4yr/$14M Season 3
Johansson 292 50 107 157 16.42 2yr/$4M ??????? Season 5
Grabner 283 87 55 142 14.87 3yr/$2.7M 5yr/$15M Season 2


-Marchand was more productive than Johansson through five seasons. However, he also signed his deal a year earlier, and thus, was a year further away from being a UFA. Marchand’s previous deal was worth $1 million more than Johansson’s over the 2 years. Given these two factors, Marchand’s average annual value of $4.5 can serve as a soft ceiling for Johansson’s deal.

-Ennis’ productions in his first five seasons is similar to Johansson’s, but in less games. His previous deal was worth $1.65 million more than Johansson’s over the life of the 2 years. He signed his deal during his season 5, where Johansson is now. So, he was more productive than Johansson, had more ice time than Johansson, and was making more on his previous deal than Johansson. Safe to say, Johansson should definitely get less than Ennis’ $4.6 million per year.

-Desharnais also has production very similar to MoJo’s. But he signed his deal after 3 seasons and was making far less than Johansson on his previous deal. Given that, it’s easy to see Johansson getting more than the $3.5 million average annual value of Desharnais’ current deal.

-Grabner is another guy that signed an extension long before season 5. However, his production through 5 seasons is pretty similar to Johansson’s. Given the time at which Grabner signed his extension, he, like Desharnais, gives us two players that Johansson will certainly earn more than.

So, what does this all mean?

I think Johansson will likely get around $4 million per year. I’ve gone back and forth on whether he will get $16 or $17 million on a 4 year deal. Given the improvement in his play so far this season, I’m putting down Johansson for a 4 year, $17 million deal (cap hit of $4.25 per season).


Caps vs. #Lightning #fancystats Recap

The Caps beat the Lightning 4-2. The Lightning had more 5v5 shot attempts than the Caps by a margin of 48-31. As you can see below, much of this happened after the Caps went up 3-0.

5v5 shot attempt chart:


-Nick Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and John Carlson had the best on-ice shot attempt differential at +2

-Matt Niskanen had the worst on-ice shot attempt differential at -20 (WHAT)

-Eric Fehr had the most individual shot attempts with 5

-Backstrom, in addition to having a hat trick, also drew 2 penalties

-Niskanen started the most shifts in the defensive zone (8). He started 4 in the offensive zone

-Mike Green and Nate Schmidt both started a team-high 5 shifts in the offensive zone. Schmidt started 5 in the defensive zone, while Green started 6 there.

Nate Schmidt, possession monster, was a -3 in on-ice shot attempts. He had one individual shot attempt.

Caps vs. Lightning: Three Storylines to Watch


Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

The Caps face the Lightning tonight at home after having won in Tampa on Tuesday 5-3 in one of the best efforts so far under Barry Trotz. There’s no doubt that the Lightning, one of the best teams in the league this season, will be looking to avenge Tuesday’s loss. Here’s three storylines to watch.

Andre Burakovsky moves to LW

Andre Burakovsky is returning to the lineup tonight, replacing Jason Chimera, who committed an unnecessary penalty that led to the winning goal for Columbus in the game on Thursday. While it would be nice for both Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov to be in the top-9 forwards, that’s a debate for another time.

What is noteworthy about Burakovsky’s return, besides the fact that one of the Caps most talented forwards won’t be watching from the press box tonight, is that he will not be playing center for the first time in his NHL career. Trotz has been adamant about Burakovsky playing at center but has opted to keep Michael Latta there for tonight. Whether this will continue remains to be seen, but simply have Burakovsky in the lineup is a positive development for the Caps

Tom Wilson seeking revenge

J.T. Brown had a questionable hit on Tom Wilson on Tuesday. Wilson sought revenge after a whistle later in the game, but Brown’s Lightning teammates, fully aware of the situation and the size discrepancy between the two, quickly intervened. While I don’t expect Wilson to do anything stupid in order to get back at Brown, you can bet that he will be looking to pay back #23 for Tampa Bay, if the opportunity presents itself.

Steven Stamkos vs. Brooks Orpik and John Carlson

I’ve written before about the fact that I don’t like Orpik and Carlson as the Caps shutdown pair. Quire frankly, they just aren’t very good as a pair in that role.This is especially worrying when one of the NHL’s best forwards comes to town.

However, Stamkos has seen only 48.2% of total shot attempts go in his team’s favor when he’s been on the ice against Carlson in his career. Orpik has fared even better, limiting the Lightning to only 43.8% of all shot attempts when on the ice against Stamkos. Continuing this trend tonight will help the Caps try to limit Stamkos from finding the back of the net. 

Caps vs. Blue Jackets #fancystats (and beyond) Recap

The Caps lost to the Blue Jackets in OT, 3-2. The 5v5 shot attempts were 41-35 in favor of the Caps

5v5 shot attempt chart:


5v5 stats

-Troy Brouwer had the best on-ice shot attempt battle with a +5

-Eric Fehr had the worst on-ice shot attempt battle with a -5

-Matt Niskanen was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (18)

-Brooks Orpik was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (17)

-Niskanen, Brouwer, and Mike Green had the most individual shot attempts (4)

Non-fancy stuff

-Was Holtby screened on the first goal? He probably should have had it. Oh, well. He’s been dynamite. Every goalie gives up a lot of goals that they should have had over the course of 82 games.

-Barry Trotz is pissed at Jason Chimera, so maybe Burakovsky finally get in the lineup again on Saturday. My lines:





This tweet was good

Got pretty excited in OT

Feeling down about that game? Here’s where we quote Albert Camus

Three Caps Numbers: Talkin’ ’bout Time on Ice


Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography


Marcus Johansson’s ice time vs Tampa last night, the second straight game he’s been below the 14:00 mark and fifth time in the past six games his ice time has decreased. The third line has been great since the return of Brooks Laich, and Jason Chimera is rejuvenated and helping the fourth line. But Johansson has taken big strides forward this season and it would be a shame to see that stunted by limiting his ice time.


The average time on ice per game for Joel Ward, 4th among all Caps forwards behind Nick Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Troy Brouwer. I like Joel Ward and think he’s an effective hockey player. But he’s a bottom-6 forward. Why is Joel Ward the 4th most used forward by Barry Trotz? He’s also 4th in terms of 5v5 ice time, so it’s not as if his penalty kill time is inflating his numbers. 


The average 5v5 ice time per game for Backstrom this season, which leads all NHL forwards. His linemate Ovechkin is second. Trotz looks like he’s going to ride his two horses as much as he can. It’s easy to like this strategy.


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