Category Archives: Washington Capitals

Caps Preview: Week 13

The Caps grabbed four points last week, going 2-1-0. The only blemish was a 4-2 loss to the Rangers sandwiched between victories over the Senators and the Penguins. With a record of 18-11-6, the Caps have 42 points, which is good for 4th in the Metro and the second wild card spot in the East. When adjusting for score situations, the Caps own 52.5% of shot attempts, which is good for 11th in the league.

The Caps have three tilts on the schedule this week (we run our weeks Monday-Sunday around here), and none of them are particularly easy. The team faces two top teams in the Islanders and the Blackhawks, as well as a surprising Panthers team that is working its way into the playoff hunt. Here’s a look at the games ahead.


Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Monday 12/29 at NYI

Score-adjusted Corsi: 53.3% (6th)

Power Play: 17.9% (17th)

Penalty Kill: 73.7% (30th)

PDO: 99.5 (22nd)

At 23-11-1, the Islanders sit 2nd in the Metro with 47 points. Despite so-so results on the PP and an awful PK, the Islanders are the real deal, thanks to superior puck possession and solid goaltending.

Jaroslav Halak’s 93.24 save% at 5v5 ranks 9th out of the 28 goalies who have played 900+ minutes this season. It appears Halak will be returning after missing two games due to injury. He had been on a nice roll, giving up just six goals in the four games prior to his injury.

The Islanders also have one of the more talented stars in the league in John Tavares, who is currently 21st in the league with 31 points. Oh, and some guy named Mikhail Grabovski is leading the team’s forwards in possession. The team sees 55.3% of total shot attempts when he’s on the ice.

Thursday 1/1 vs. CHI

Score-adjusted Corsi: 56.3% (1st)

Power Play: 18.7% (14th)

Penalty Kill: 91.0% (1st)

PDO: 100.9 (8th)

This game is apparently being played at a baseball stadium that isn’t Camden Yards.

The Blackhawks currently have 50 points, second only to Anaheim in the entire NHL. This is an elite team, if not the elite team. The Caps were thoroughly dominated in the previous meeting this season, but escaped with a win.

Chicago is led by its usual cast of characters. Joanthan Toews and Patrick Kane are the headliners, but players such as Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp (who missed 14 games due to injury) give this team such impressive forward depth that it’s easy to miss a guy like Kris Versteeg, who is on pace for a career year with 26 points in 32 games.

Hitting is one thing you won’t see the Blackhawks do a lot of. This isn’t because they are incapable or unwilling to do so. It’s because you don’t need to hit people when you have the puck.

Sunday 1/4 vs. FLA

Score-adjusted Corsi: 51.8 (13th)

Power Play: 13.0% (28th)

Penalty Kill: 81.3% (15th)

PDO: 99.5 (23rd)

This is Margaret’s favorite team. Okay, not really. But she’s been high on them for a while now and it’s for good reason. The Panthers are 6-2-2 in their last ten games and are only four points behind the Caps for the last wild card spot in the East. Their possession numbers are solid, and if they could figure out how to be just average on the PP, they could be a dangerous team come Spring.

Roberto Luongo is back tending the net for the Panthers this season. His 93.40 save% ranks 7th among qualifying goalies. He’s also endlessly entertaining on Twitter, but you probably already knew that.

Production-wise, they don’t have a standout forward, as Nick Bjugstad leads the group with 19 points in 32 games. Injuries have been a bit of a concern for the team, but they are getting healthier.

On the blue line, 18-year-old Aaron Ekblad has quickly established himself as one of the best young players in the game after the Panthers made him the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. His 19 points are tied for the team lead. Possession-wise, the Panthers do 0.8% better in terms of shot attempts when Ekblad is on the ice, which the team has to be happy with from a rookie defenseman at his age, regardless of the fact that his minutes have been a little sheltered.

Stats from War on Ice and

Defensive Prospect Madison Bowey Excels in WJC Debut

RRBG BoweyPhoto by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Drafted in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Madison Bowey is one of the Capitals’ top defensive prospects not playing in the pros. Wait, scratch that–he’s one of their top prospects, and he proved this tonight as a fixture on Canada’s blue line.

Going into the draft, Bowey was lauded for his strong two-way play and skating ability. He’s only strengthened these assets since, and is entering his second year as captain of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. At 6’1”, Bowey uses his size to add physicality to his play, and his offensive numbers are projected to surpass those of his previous season (21G, 39A in 72 games.) There’s a lot to like about Bowey, and he gave Caps fans a taste of his abilities in his WJC debut.

Bowey has suited up for Canada before, but this is his first World Junior tournament. He and Winnipeg Jets prospect Josh Morrissey were slated to comprise Canada’s top defensive pairing, and disappoint they did not. In Canada’s 8-0 shellacking of Slovakia, Bowey recorded two assists on Canada’s third and sixth goals (scored by Robby Fabbri and Max Domi, respectively.)

Skating and size are huge components of Bowey’s game, and he put both to good use. He employed nifty footwork utilized his reach to reclaim the puck from the Slovaks. Bowey also didn’t hesitate to get physical along the boards or around the net.

Quarterbacking a power play is an important skill for offensively-inclined defensemen. While Canada’s power play wasn’t as dominant as anticipated, especially when considering their even-strength dominance, Bowey made crisp passes. He cycled the puck with ease from Canada’s own zone to Slovakia’s, frequently giving rise to what would become good scoring chances.

Bowey himself was denied on a number of quality opportunities, thanks to Slovak goalie Denis Godla. However, he helped Canada return the favor by further stifling Slovakia’s tepid offense while on the penalty kill. Bowey drew a penalty himself—two for tripping—midway through the third period. And while he fanned on a shot on Canada’s final power play, his overall performance on special teams was strong.

Bowey certainly looked like one of the premier young puck-moving defensemen tonight, and it’s hard not to wonder how a Capitals or Bears jersey would look on him next season. He retrieved the puck easily and was able to transition from zone to zone without getting caught out of position. He also showed his ability to play in a variety of situations, from 5v5 to 4v4 to shorthanded.

Of course, Slovakia is hardly a feared opponent, and Bowey and Team Canada will have the opportunity to face tougher competition Saturday at 8pm against Germany. Based on the play of the Bowey-Morrissey duo, don’t expect Coach Benoit Groulx to shake up his top pairing anytime soon.

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 in. 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?

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).


Two Players the Caps Should Consider Trading


Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Yesterday, prompted by rumors that the Caps are actively looking to make a trade, I looked at two players they’ll likely be asked about but shouldn’t trade. Today, I’ll look at two players the Caps should be looking to use as trade chips if they are actually in active trade discussion with other teams.

Karl Alzner

In previous season, Alzner was often asked to play the role of a “shutdown” D, a role that some would say excuses the Caps consistently getting a lower percentage of shot attempts with Alzner on the ice relative to when he’s off. There’s some merit to that, but it’s a murky issue. For example, quality of competition is often overstated as a factor in puck possession.

So, other than saying I don’t think there’s anything in Alzner’s track record that refutes he’s expendable to this team,  I’ll leave last season alone and look at this season.

Alzner is getting easier assignments this season. He’s starting 51.54% of his shifts in the offensive zone, the easiest zone starts of his career. In his defense, they are the second toughest among Caps D. He’s also facing the second easiest competition of his career, second only to 2009-10, and only 4th toughest among current Caps D.

Yet, the Caps still see a better percentage of shot attempts with Alzner on the bench than with him on the ice. But, since he is considered more of a defensive player, it might be more fair to measure his performance in how well he suppresses opponents shots. Here are opponent shots attempts per 60 minutes of ice time for Caps defenders this season.

image (4)

Alzner does okay in terms of shot suppression, ranking 4th.

At 26 years old and in his seventh NHL season, I think it’s fair to say Alzner has not become the player he was projected to be when the Caps took him fifth overall in 2007. Don’t get me wrong, Alzner is an NHL-caliber defenseman whose contract is a pretty good value ($2.8 million cap hit through 2016-17). But Caps have some depth on the blue line and other teams will likely be interested in him. So, trading Alzner, who is good but expendable, makes sense.  

One thing I forgot to include when publishing this is that Alzner has a full no trade clause, so he’d have to approve any deal.

Troy Brouwer

Apologies to the Brouwer Rangers.

Much like Alzner, I think Brouwer is a good player, which is what gives him trade value. But, also like Alzner, I think he’s expendable.

Brouwer’s 1.50 points per 60 minutes of play this season ranks 168th out of 317 NHL forwards who have played 200+ minutes this season. The Caps see 1.37% less of the total shot attempts when Brouwer is on the ice relative to when he’s off.

While some of the sample sizes are small, all of the players he’s most likely to be skating with on the second line are all better possession players playing without Brouwer rather than with him, which you can see in the chart below.

image (5)

But my point isn’t to drag Brouwer down. I think he’s a decent second line winger. But the Caps have two options, Eric Fehr and Andre Burakovsky, who can’t currently crack the Caps top-6 that could play just as well, if not better than Brouwer. Given that he’s expendable, but likely has trade value, the Caps would be wise to try and get Brouwer’s $3.66 million cap hit (through 2015-16) off the books.

None of this is meant as a knock on Alzner or Brouwer. In fact, in some ways I’m being complementary of them by saying they have trade value, whereas many of their teammates, for one reason or another, don’t. While they are serviceable (or better) in their current roles, Brian MacLellan should consider both players expendable if he’s looking to make a trade.

Two Players the Caps Should Not Trade

Mojo copy

Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

According to Pierre LeBrun, Caps GM Brian MacLellan is looking to make some trades. The Caps have looked a bit stale lately, save for spurts of inspired and creative play such as the first 40 minutes in Saturday’s game against the Devils, so it’s not shocking the new GM may want to shake things up. Here are two players MacLellan likely will be asked about but shouldn’t trade.

Marcus Johansson

Johnasson has already bested his goal totals from the two previous seasons with 9 goals through 25 games. Johansson has 8 even strength goals this season. He had 5 even strength goals in the last two seasons combined. I understand if people think that dealing Johansson now would be selling high.

I’m not convinced of that. I think that Johnasson very well may have taken a major step forward in his development and that the improvements in his play and production could be long lasting. While his shooting% (17.6%) is likely to come back closer to his career shooting% (12.8%), Johansson is going to continue to score at an improved rate because he is shooting the puck so much more.

image (3)

As you can see, Johansson is shooting way more this season. In situations where he used to force passes, he is now firing pucks on net. As a result, he’s now putting close to 8 shots on per goal per 60 minutes of ice time. In the two previous seasons he averaged about four per 60 minutes of ice time.

In terms of shots per game this season, Johannson is averaging 2.04 shots. If he were to maintain this over an 82 game season, he would have 167 shots on goal, shattering his previous career high of 107 he set last season. If, Johansson were to pump 167 shots on net in a season and shoot at his career average of 12.8%, he would score 21 goals, which crushes his career high of 14 set in 2011-12.

Marcus Johansson is finally producing like a legitimate top-6 player. It would be a mistake to trade him. Instead, the Caps should look to extend him, as he is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Mike Green

Mike Green is an elite NHL defenseman and the Caps are a better team with him than without him. He can make glaring defensive mistakes at times, but you’re wrong if you think this makes him a bad player.

Here’s a chart Peter from RMNB made that was used in one of my posts on that site that shows Green has consistently made the Caps a better team when he’s on the ice.


As you can see, 2012 was the only season when Green didn’t help the Caps possession. Other than 2012, the Green has made the Caps a much better team when he’s on the ice. For a more in-depth look at why Green is irrefutably awesome, check out this article I wrote about him over on RMNB.

I understand he’s injury-prone and that his salary demands could be tricky for a team up against the cap. But the Caps will be better off if they find a way to keep Mike Green.

In my next post, I’ll look at two players the Caps should trade, which can help free up some of the cap space needed to keep Mike Green.

Caps Preview: Week 10

The past week was a successful one for the Caps, as they collected four of a possible six points. Their two wins came against division rivals (#fancystats recaps here, here, and here). With 28 points, the Caps have since moved into third place in the Metro. 10 points separate them from the division leaders, who are the Penguins and Islanders respectively. Playing catch-up is a lofty task, particularly with two of this week’s three games taking place against a top Lightning team.


Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography


12/9 at Tampa Bay

Power play: 22.7%
Penalty kill: 80.4%
5v5 Corsi-for: 53.9%
PDO: 101.4

The Lightning are a formidable opponent, and this is evidenced by their 39 points (tied with the Ducks for the NHL’s most) and first-place ranking in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning are aiming for their sixth straight home win–a difficult streak for the Caps to break.

The closest thing the Lightning have to a major weakness is their penalty kill, which sits at 19th overall. The Caps’ power play is second only to the Penguins, and they’ve got to score (a tough task when Ben Bishop is in goal.) The top line has cooled off as of late, and moving Burakovsky/Kuznetsov off the fourth line–though they’d probably see cozy zone starts–might be conducive to sparking the offense.

Four different Caps scored goals in their most recent win, a 4-1 road victory over the Devils. If they can sustain their offense and Mike Green returns to the lineup, the Caps have a good shot at staying with the Lightning. The first meeting between the two teams took place in November, when the Lightning beat the Caps 4-3. Considering the amount of offensive talent the Lightning has, Holtby and the defense need to stay sharp.


12/11 vs. Columbus

Power play: 21.9%
Penalty kill: 76.3%
5v5 Corsi-for: 46.1%
PDO: 98.1

On paper, the division rival Blue Jackets don’t look too threatening. They’ve been decimated by injuries, and the Hurricanes are the only thing keeping them from presiding over the basement of the NHL’s weakest division. Yet there are a few bright spots for the Blue Jackets–and things the Caps must be wary of.

The Blue Jackets’ PDO is 27th in the NHL. Basically, they’ve been extremely unlucky, and this is bound to change soon. (PDO is the sum of even-strength shooting and save percentage.) The Blue Jackets have one of the league’s best goaltenders in Sergei Bobrovsky, who recently helped carry them to a win over the Lightning.

But superb goaltending will only take a team so far. Columbus has atrocious possession numbers and a subpar penalty kill that barely ranks above the Caps’. The teams share another similarity in that their power plays are among the NHL’s top ten. Special teams will likely play a huge role in the outcome of this game, which looks like an “easy” two points. But even when they’re getting crushed in shot attempts, the Blue Jackets are a hard-working team, and Bobrovsky is a very good goaltender. Just ask the Lightning.


12/13 vs. Tampa Bay

The Caps-Lightning regular-season series concludes this Saturday night. With one game already in the books (a 4-3 Lightning home win). I’ve already outlined what the Caps need to do for a win, so now I’ll take a look at some of the Lightning’s deadliest players.

Acknowledging Stamkos seems redundant, but I’ll do it anyway. Is shutting down a player of his caliber really possible? That’s debatable, but the Caps’ defense is in for a tough night. Avoiding penalties will help, too, as seeing him on the power play is a terrifying prospect.

Last season, two Lightning rookies were in contention for the Calder Trophy. Tyler Johnson was one of the three finalists and is currently second on the team in points (8G, 20A.) He’s one of the Lightning’s many two-way forwards capable of providing offense and defense, and this is reflected in the team’s scoring totals. Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, fellow sophomore Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Fippula–the list goes on and on. On defense, Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman comprise the Lightning’s top pairing. Both are fixtures on the power play and make offensive contributions at even strength.

Who could replace Justin Peters?

Early in the season, goaltending was a major issue for the Caps. But over a quarter of the season is complete, and we’re still not seeing the numbers we need from backup Justin Peters. A former Carolina Hurricane with solid numbers, Peters was signed in the offseason to back up Holtby, who was deemed the Caps’ official starter. Last season was something of a trainwreck from the goaltending perspective, with four goaltenders having suited up by season’s end. Two are no longer with the organization (Neuvirth and Halak), while Holtby was finally handed the reins and Grubauer was relegated, after much speculation, to the starting job in Hershey.

25 games are in the books, and the Caps have a 11-10-4 record (26 points and fourth in the Metro.) Peters has seven games to his name, a .872 save percentage, and a 3.28 GAA. Of the seven games he’s appeared in, he’s allowed a minimum of three goals in all but one of them–and six of his appearances were as the team’s starter. Even with vaunted goalie coach Mitch Korn working behind the scenes, the Caps ought to at least consider moving Peters. With this mentality (and the current needs of other teams) in mind, I’ve examined two potential backups–both currently playing in the NHL–and what it would take for the Caps to obtain them.


Thomas Greiss, Pittsburgh Penguins

Before I make the case for Greiss, let me establish that it’s highly unlikely the Caps and Pens would swap players. There’s the whole division rival thing, for starters… But it shouldn’t detract from Greiss’ play and why he could benefit the Caps.

Greiss has played in 75 NHL games to date, with 30 wins and 26 losses. He’s posted a .916 save percentage and 2.44 GAA. He began the season as expected in Pittsburgh, after beating out Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jeff Zatkoff for the backup job. Yet Zatkoff’s call-up and continuing strong play present the Penguins with a dilemma.

The Pens find themselves in an unusual situation–balancing three goaltenders–and it’s one the Caps are all too familiar with. Last season, the trio of Holtby-Neuvirth-Grubauer was something of a blessing and a curse. Having three competent, healthy goalies was great until rotating the three into practice drills became a detriment. Limited playing time was another concern, and Adam Oates made his preferences clear, typically favoring Grubauer over the more-experienced Neuvirth. While Grubauer wasn’t ready for an NHL backup job at that point in time, the same can’t be said for the present. His numbers are stronger than ever: in 31 games, he’s posted a .926 save percentage and 2.05 GAA.

Marc-Andre Fleury is the Pens’ obvious starter. He was signed to a long-term extension earlier in the season, while Zatkoff is locked up until the end of next season. Greiss, on the other hand, is a UFA at this season’s end. The Penguins have a number of strong goaltending prospects to replenish the pipe, and Zatkoff’s play demonstrates that he can be an effective backup for Fleury. With Greiss’ contract set to expire shortly, the Caps can bring up Grubauer as Holtby’s full-time backup. Some cap maneuvering may be required, but nothing particularly troublesome.

While Greiss’ time in DC would likely be minimal, working with Korn could be a boon for player and team alike. In commenting on the Peters signing, MacLellan noted that Peters was a player entering his prime and felt he could vastly improve his play with Korn’s help. It’s worth nothing that Peters and Greiss are the same age: 28. And Grubauer is 23.


Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues

Brian Elliott and Jake Allen entered the season as the only relevant pieces of the Blues’ goaltending tandem. The Ryan Miller Experiment was a thing of the past, and the rookie Allen would back up Elliott. All seemed well, particularly with the Blues overtaking much of the uber-competitive Central Division.

Then Elliott was injured, and the Blues felt pressure to obtain a true starting goaltender–or at least one who could share the workload–in his absence. Enter Martin Brodeur, who refused to retire after his longtime Devils did not offer him a contract. His numbers have long been in decline, but the Blues brought him in on a tryout agreement before inking him to a one-year deal.

Brodeur has made clear that he doesn’t mind playing second fiddle, so long as he’s playing for a contender. The Blues certainly fall into this category, and if Brodeur has a successful outing during Elliott’s absence, they might look to deal Allen. (Do I think this is wise on their part? No, but it could benefit the Caps.) Ken Hitchcock implied that the signing wasn’t only to provide stability on an as-needed basis. In fact, Brodeur could see playing time comparable to that of a starter’s.

Let’s say the Blues are willing to make a deal. In Allen, the Caps receive a young goaltender with limited NHL experience but plenty of promise. He wouldn’t be a long-term solution to the backup problem in DC, unless the Caps were willing to deal Grubauer. And what the Blues would ask for in return is a bit dicey–they know they’re giving up a good young goaltender in Allen, and with the ever-relevant question of Is this finally our year? hanging in the air, caution is critical.

But even with short-term goals in mind, the Blues must also be wary of their future. Hockey’s Future notes their weak crop of defenseman prospects–a position the Caps’ system is practically overflowing with. At the NHL level, who knows? The Caps could trade Mike Green (though they shouldn’t). The specifics of this hypothetical deal are murky, but it’s an intriguing idea for both parties.

Caps Advanced Stats Player of the Month: November 2014

In October 2014, Alex Ovechkin took home the Caps advanced stats Player of the Month award.

For this month, I’ve changed up the categories a little bit. Here are the categories

1) Relative shot attempts-The amount of shot attempts in the Caps favor when a player is on the ice vs. when he’s off the ice. The higher the number, the better

2) SA For/60-Caps shot attempts for per 60 minutes of ice time for an individual player. The higher the number, the better.

3) SA Against/60-Opponent shot attempts per 60 minutes of ice time for an individual player. The lower the number the better.

4) Zone starts-The percentage of shifts a player starts in the offensive zone. The lower the number, the “tougher” the minutes a player is being assigned.

5) Quality of Competition-The quality of competition a player is skating against, measured by TOI of his opponents.

Scoring System: For categories 1, 4, and 5, the player in first place will get 5 points, second place-4, down to 5th place getting 1. For categories 2 and 3, the points awarded are halved, so first place gets 2.5, second place 2.0 and so on. This is because categories 1 through 3 are all possession-based, so it may be a little redundant to award 5 points for all of them.

A player has to have skated 50+ minutes in November to have qualified.

Relative shot attempts

Player Relative SA% Points
Wilson +5.51% 5
Green +4.63% 4
Ovechkin +4.04% 3
Burakovsky +3.24% 2
Johansson +2.85% 1


Shot attempts For/60

Player SA For/60 Points
Wilson 62.01 2.5
Ovechkin 61.82 2
Johansson 60.55 1.5
Backstrom 58.99 1
Kuznetsov 58.84 0.5


Shot attempts Against/60

Player SA Against/60 Points
Niskanen 50.37 2.5
Fehr 50.58 2
Green 50.93 1.5
Latta 51.87 1
Wilson 51.97 0.5


Zone Starts

Player Zone Start % Points
Latta 40.91% 5
Fehr 42.22% 4
Chimera 42.24% 3
Ward 45.24% 2
Beagle 50.96% 1


Quality of Competition

Player QOC TOI% Points
Ovechkin 30.11% 5
Backstrom 30.05% 4
Wilson 30.03% 3
Orpik 29.39% 2
Carlson 28.89% 1


Final Standings

Player Rank Points
Green 5 5.5
Latta 3 (tie) 6
Fehr 3 (tie) 6
Ovechkin 2 10
Wilson 1 11


The Caps advanced stats Player of the Month for November 2014 is Tom Wilson


Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRBG Photography

All stats from War on Ice

Caps Preview: Week 9

December is here, and a new month means the Caps can forget (or at least learn from) their decline in November. October was full of promise and win totals that didn’t reflect the Caps’ strong possession numbers, but the following month was a different story. November held a 6-7-1 record for the team, one that can’t be attributed to unlucky bounces and shoddy goaltending. Something needs to change, and the Caps have three opportunities this week to get things rolling.


Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRBG Photography

12/2 vs. Vancouver

Power play: 18.4%
Penalty kill: 84.2%
Corsi-for: 50.6%
PDO: 98.9

Between thousands of miles and two different conferences, plenty separates the Caps and Canucks. Yet they had similar offseasons–hirings and firings of GMs and coaches, and roster shakeups at the center positions. Both teams missed the playoffs last season, but the Canucks have rebounded spectacularly on paper.

They lead the Pacific Division, surpassing the likes of the Ducks, Flames (yeah, you read that correctly), Kings, and Sharks respectively. And the Coyotes and Oilers, but you knew that already. So what makes the Canucks successful/what do the Caps need to watch for? Save for their most recent game, a lackluster 5-3 loss to the Red Wings, the Canucks have been playing solid hockey. New coach Willie Desjardins resurrected their offense from the hands of John Tortorella, while keeping up their hallmark stalwart defense. This shows in their eighth-ranked penalty kill, though they average 2.71 goals-against per game. The Canucks don’t excel in one particular area, but the sum of all parts makes for success. Whether this is sustainable is another issue, and one the Caps shouldn’t be worrying about.

However, they should remember that the Western Conference plays a faster, grittier game. The Caps were easily outpaced by the Canucks in their first meeting of the season, a 4-2 loss in Vancouver. Deploying a successful checking line is key to a win, and this might require Trotz to shake up combinations, particularly to maximize the abilities of certain players…and minimize the offensive abilities of the opposition, Sedins included.

12/4 at Carolina

Power play: 22.1%
Penalty kill: 83.1%
Corsi-for: 52%
PDO: 97.2

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Hurricanes are really bad this season. At the time of writing, they’ve got a 7-13-3 record (17 points) and are serious contenders in the McEichel race. Despite this, the Hurricanes have their promising moments. October was a truly bad month but they rebounded the following month. A quick look at the above stats, out of context, might have you thinking that the ‘Canes are a fairly solid team, especially in the Eastern Conference. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The ‘Canes can’t sustain any success they have, and for every flash of brilliance, they seem hellbent on reversing it.

The Hurricanes’ recent home-and-home with the Penguins shows that the Canes can stay with one of the NHL’s top teams–on paper, anyway. They outshot the Pens in their first contest and came away with a 4-2 win, before being narrowly outshot at home and dropping the game 3-2. Eric Staal, Riley Nash, and Justin Faulk are tied for the team lead in points (15 apiece.) Meanwhile, our old friend Alex Semin is struggling mightily. Goaltending is also a huge weakness for the Hurricanes: starting goalie Cam Ward has a save percentage of of .907, while backup Anton Khudobin barely has his head above water at .900. The Hurricanes don’t allow a ton of shots, either–this isn’t a Holtby situation like last year.

Of the three games the Caps play this week, this might be the hardest one to predict. And giving away points to a division rival–even if they’re not a playoff contender–is the worst possible outcome.

12/6 at New Jersey

Power play: 20.6%
Penalty kill: 74.7%
Corsi-for: 50.5%
PDO: 100.8

The Caps have already played the Devils twice this season. The first matchup was a 6-2 blowout in the Caps’ favor; the second, an unbelievably boring 1-0 win for the Devils. The Devils aren’t a particularly good team, and they currently sit fifth in the Metro (right behind the Caps.) Their special teams and puck possession numbers are pedestrian. The same can be said of their PDO. All in all, the Devils are a very average team. Their division rival status should give the Caps additional incentive to steal two points.

Jaromir Jagr, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique provide the Devils with scoring punch. Cory Schneider’s solid numbers don’t reflect the insane workload he’s seen thus far. The Devils, however, are looking to end their four-game losing skid. They’ve got two opportunities, both on the road, to secure a win before playing the Caps Saturday night. The Devils face Pittsburgh and Toronto respectively, and the outcomes of each game will give the Caps a better idea of what to expect.

Playing a simple game will suit the Caps best. They employed this approach in their first meeting of the season and won 6-2, with five of their six goals scored coming at even strength. Winning faceoffs, scoring at 5v5, aggressive forechecking, stability in the crease–the Caps can definitely afford to tighten up in these areas against the Devils. Puck luck obviously doesn’t hurt, either.

Thanks, as always, to War on Ice and Puckalytics for the stats.


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