Three Caps’ Numbers: Episode Two

Editor’s Note: This is a new column in which we will look at 3 Caps-related numbers or stats with a brief commentary on each number. As always, if you have questions or feedback, feel free to let us know in the comment or on Twitter. Thanks for reading.



55.06% is the percentage of all shot attempts that have gone in the Caps’ favor so far this season while Nate Schmidt has been on the ice during 5-on-5 play. This is really, really good. Of the 157 defensemen to have skated 140+ minutes so far this season, this ranks 23rd. Schmidt does benefit from playing on a strong possession team, but the Caps still see a 3.97% increase in shot attempts when Schmidt is on the ice, which is 37th best of the same group of 157 defenders.

Schmidt’s first 41 games in the NHL compare very favorably to the first 41 games of Mike Green, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner. The Caps should sign Nate Schmidt to an extension sooner rather than later.


Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRGB Photography


This is the Caps shorthanded save percentage, which ranks 24th in the NHL. This has to get better. The Caps are suppressing shots much better than last year, but their penalty kill is going to continue to struggle if the goaltending doesn’t improve (it will). It currently sits at 77.1%, which is 23rd in the league. There’s no way the save% will stay that low, but the Caps are having the opposite issue of last season, in that their shot suppression is no longer the problem (6th best in the NHL at 4-on-5) and their goaltending is no longer their saving grace while on the penalty kill.


This is the number of shots per 60 minutes allowed when Brooks Laich is on the ice during shorthanded situations. This leads the team and is awesome. This is also 25th among all NHL players who have played 6+ minutes on the PK this season. Yes, the sample-size is small, but the Caps have been great at supressing shots with him on the ice so far this year, so the Caps should be hoping he’s healthy and back on the PK as soon as possible. 

As always, thanks to War on Ice for all of the stats.

Caps vs. Canes #fancystats recap

The Caps beat the ‘Canes 4-3 in overtime. Their record is now 6-5-3.

5-on-5 Shot Chart:

W vs. Carolina 11-8-14

-Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were 30-23 Caps. Close game shot attempts were 21-11 Caps.

-W-L on faceoffs, 30-24 Caps. Backstrom 14-6, Beagle 1-0, Brouwer 3-0, Burakovsky 3-6, Chimera 3-0, Fehr 5-11, Kuznetsov 1-0, Ward 0-1.

-The Caps’ best CorsiRel player was Evgeny Kuznetsov at +27.48%.

-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Nicklas Backstrom at -20.45%.

-Brooks Orpik was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (21).

-John Carlson was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (20).

-The toughest ZS% went to Kuznetsov (25.5%), followed by Latta (45.45%).

-The easiest ZS% went to Burakovsky and Johansson (tied at 80%).

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 54.55% ZS, -11.34CorsiRel.

Shift Chart:

W vs. Carolina 11-8-14 Shift Chart

Thanks, War on Ice, for the stats and charts.

Three Caps’ Numbers: Episode One

Editor’s Note: This is a new column in which we will look at 3 Caps-related numbers or stats with a brief commentary on each number. As always, if you have questions or feedback, feel free to let us know in the comment or on Twitter. Thanks for reading. 



Our first number, 97.75, represents the Caps PDO through the first 12 games of the 2014-15 season. For those who are unfamiliar with PDO, it is the found by combining a team’s 5-0n-5 shooting percentage and save percentage. In short, it regresses towards 100. So, a team with a PDO below 100 is thought to be getting bad “puck luck” while a team with a PDO above 100 is thought to be getting the good bounces. (For those who want a more nuanced definition of PDO, here’s a great article.)

So, why is this number significant? The Caps’ current PDO of 97.75 is the lowest of any regular season PDO on record for the team since 2002. This isn’t to say that the team hasn’t had 12 game stretches like this. But it does say that if this “puck luck” continues for the Caps, we would be able to call this the unluckiest Caps team on record.

Yes, this team has had some defensive lapses. And maybe we need our goalies to come up with some bigger saves. But the Caps will see better results simply by continuing to do the same things they are doing. Their puck luck will change. I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money or drinks on the fact that the Caps PDO will be above 97.75 at the end of the season.

Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRGB Photography


The number of shots per game Marcus Johansson is averaging so far this season. This is up from a career mark of 1.29 shots per game. This would lead to 44 more shots over an 82 game stretch. If Johansson were to shoot his career mark of 12.7%, this would mean 5.58 more goals per 82 games for him. This is not insignificant. We are talking 5-6 more goals per 82 games from #90 by doing nothing else but continuing to shoot the puck more. If Johansson keeps his current shot per game pace, without shooting any more accurately, and plays in 82 games, he will have 18 goals this season, which is great for a guy with a previous career high of 14. KEEP SHOOTING MARCUS!



Points per 60 minutes of PP time for Evgeny Kuznetsov. This not only leads all Caps forwards, but is 8th among all NHL forwards who have 13+ minutes of PP time so far this season. Small sample, sure, but if he can keep up a pace anywhere near this, the Caps PP will be relentless this season, with two high octane units.


Caps vs. Flames #fancystats recap

The Caps lost to the Flames in OT by a score of 4-3 and now have a record of 4-5-3

5-on-5 shot chart


-5-on-5 shot attempts were in favor of the Caps, 56-43.. Close-game shot attempts favored the Caps 42-29,

-Caps W-L on faceoffs 33-26: Latta 13-6, Backstrom 8-5, Kuznetsov 6-6, Burakovsky 3-4, Ward 2-2, Wilson 1-2, Brouwer 0-1.

-The Caps best CorsiRel player was Latta at +27.70%

-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was a tie between Kuznetov and Brouwer at -19.67%

-Backstrom was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (22).

-Orpik was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (16).

-The toughest zone starts went to Nate Schmidt at 25% ZS

-The easiest zone starts went to Wilson and Green at 88.89% ZS

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: ZS%, CorsiRel -3.03%

Shift Chart:


Thanks to War on Ice, where all these stats were pulled from.

Caps Preview: Week 5

With a 4-5-2 record, there are plenty of concerns over the Caps’ ability to perform for the remainder of the season, never mind the playoffs. But we’re also entering the fifth week of an 82-game season, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that the Caps will turn things around with time.

They’ve got three opportunities this week to tighten up their defense and improve goaltending: two home games against Calgary and Carolina and a trip to Chicago (not in that order.) Playing a varied set of opponents will serve as good benchmarks.


11/4 vs. Calgary

Despite an appallingly poor Corsi-for percentage of 43.2%, the Flames have managed to remain afloat in the super-competitive Pacific Division. Their 16 points are good for third among division rivals, beating out the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. (At the time of writing, the Ducks lead with 20 points, while the Canucks follow with 16. The Flames have eight wins; the Canucks have seven.)

But the Flames are also enjoying a PDO of 103.4, third in the League. They’ll return to reality soon enough–after all, they beat the mighty Habs 6-2 Sunday night. Much of the Flames’ success should be credited to Jonas Hiller, who boasts a .938 save percentage and one shutout in eight games played.

The Flames also have one of the NHL’s best pairings in TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano, who are capable of shutting down the opposition and bringing an offensive punch. They lead the Flames with 12 and 11 points respectively. Young forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan aren’t far behind, with each tallying seven points.

With a mix of offensively talented defensemen and forwards, the Flames can produce goals from a number of players, thus making them a trickier team to defend. Their special teams aren’t particularly threatening, with a power-play success rate of 20% (12th in the League) and penalty kill success rate of 75.7% (24th in the League.) The Caps should always strive to stay out of the box, but facing one of the NHL’s better power plays will allow their PK to rebound from its dismal 78.6% success rate, good for 20th overall.

The teams last met in October, when the Caps won 3-1 and outshot the Flames 30-21. The win was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal road trip, and with a four-game losing streak looking to be snapped, a victory couldn’t be timed more perfectly.


11/7 @ Chicago

It should go without saying that the Blackhawks are a formidable opponent, despite their fifth-place ranking in the Central Division. (It is the Western Conference, after all.) The Hawks are currently the NHL’s best Corsi team by a significant margin: their Corsi-for comes in at 57%, with second-place Minnesota at 55.8%.

With a roster reminiscent of All-Star games, Blackhawks are aiming to end their two-game losing streak. They lost 3-2 to Toronto, a game that was stolen by James Reimer’s superb goaltending (the Blackhawks outshot the Leafs 47-27.) Their second defeat, in which they fell 1-0 to Winnipeg, was another demonstration of the Blackhawks’ possession prowess. Having outshot the Jets 33-27, the game was their second shutout loss of the season.

With a Tuesday night away game scheduled against the Habs, the Blackhawks will be taking on one of the NHL’s top teams. Their special teams are a mixed bag: the power play is a lackluster 18.4% (17th overall), but the penalty kill is ranked third at 91.9%. Regardless of the opponent, the Caps shouldn’t count on the power play as a major source of offense. This is imperative against the stingy Blackhawks, who will capitalize on the slightest defensive miscue. If the Caps play to their potential, they can definitely stay with–if not beat–the Blackhawks.


11/8 vs. Carolina

The Hurricanes have garnered plenty of headlines this season–nearly all of them negative, and nearly all of them pertaining to their winless October. Their six points are lowest in the League, and they’ve compiled a 2-6-2 record thus far. Yet they beat the Kings 3-2, matching them in shots (32-32.)

Some of the ‘Canes best players have struggled, and this is reflected in the team’s play. Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner (both of whom were injured in October; the latter by a Niskanen hit) have yet to deliver much of an impact. The same can be said of Alex Semin, who was a healthy scratch against the Kings. The three forwards have racked up eight points total, a number that’s been affected by the aforementioned injuries.

Given the Hurricanes’ poor quality of play, it’s hard to imagine that their Corsi-for is 15th in the League at 50.8%. This is tied with the Kings and easily surpasses teams like the Ducks and Sharks–and the injury-decimated Blue Jackets, who the Canes face in a home-and-home before taking on the Caps Saturday night.

On the surface, the game looks like an easy win. The Hurricanes have no singular strength that must be addressed, saved for their eighth-ranked power play (21.9% efficiency.) The penalty kill is 18th overall at 80%, and could allow the Caps to exercise their firepower on the man advantage.

Then again, the same was said when the Caps played the Coyotes. By this point in time, the Caps should have cleaned up their defensive zone play and cut back on turnovers to hopefully earn four of a possible six points by week’s end.

Caps vs. Coyotes #fancystats recap

With a 6-5 loss to the Coyotes, the Caps have now lost four straight. Their record stands at 4-5-2.

11-2 shot attempts

-Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were 27-23 Caps. Close game shot attempts were 17-14 Caps.

-W-L on faceoffs, 26-14 Arizona. Backstrom 7-8, Brouwer 0-1, Burakovsky 0-7, Fehr 4-0, Kuznetsov 1-7, Latta 2-3.

-The Caps’ best CorsiRel player was Eric Fehr at +27.59%

-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Jay Beagle at -43.42%

-Nicklas Backstrom was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (21).

-Brooks Orpik was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (22).

-The toughest ZS% went to Fehr (40%), followed by Backstrom (45.45%).

-One Cap had 100% ZS%: Burakovsky.

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 80% ZS, +22.98CorsiRel.

11-2 shift chart

Caps at Lightning #fancystats recap

The Caps dropped their third straight to the Lightning, 4-3. Their record is now 4-4-2.

5-on-5 Shot Attempt Chart:

11-1-14 L @ Tampa

-Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were 38-28 Caps. Close game shot attempts were 32-29 Caps.

-W-L on faceoffs, 24-20 Tampa. Backstrom 7-10, Brouwer 1-0, Burakovsky 4-5, Chimera 0-1, Kuznetsov 4-5, Latta 4-2, Ward 1-1.

-The Caps’ best CorsiRel player was Mike Green at +25.47%

-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Karl Alzner at -31.54%

-Mike Green was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (23).

-John Carlson was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (17).

-The toughest ZS% went to Chimera (40%), followed by Kuznetsov and Fehr (50%).

-Three Caps had 100% ZS%: Beagle, Latta, and Wilson.

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 62.5% ZS, +12.96CorsiRel.

Shift Chart:

11-1-14 L @ Tampa shift chart

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

Caps Advanced Stats Player of the Month: October 2014

This is the first in what I intend to be a monthly feature here at BrooksLaichyear. As I said when I wrote about the Caps advanced stats all-stars, this isn’t meant to be a claim that #fancystats or advanced stats are the end of any discussion. Instead, this is just meant to be a fun way to discuss Caps advanced stats and to put a new twist on an old idea (player of the month).

Instead of making this a completely arbitrary award, I’ve come up with a system (that may be completely arbitrary) to determine the player of the month. Otherwise, I’d just rotate this award between Nate Schmidt and Mike Green and be accused of playing favorites.

There will be 4 categories used. They are:

1) Close game unblocked shot attempt (Fenwick) percentage.

*close game situations are when the game is tied at any point or within a goal in the first two periods.

2) Unblocked shot attempt (Fenwick) percentage.

3) Zone starts-The percentage of shifts a player starts in the offensive zone. The lower the number the more shifts a player starts in the defensive zone, and thus, the “tougher” the minutes.

4) Quality of competition-The higher the percentage, the tougher competition the player faced.

A player has to have appeared in a minimum of 6 games to be eligible.

I have used two possession categories to give possession more weight than the other categories. The top 5 players in each category will receive points based off of where they finish (1st place-5 points, 2nd place-4 points) and so on. The player with the highest point total from the 4 categories will be deemed the Caps Advanced Stats Player of the Month.

Category 1: Close-game unblocked shot attempt (Fenwick) percentage 

Player Close-Game Fenwick % Points
Latta 64.1 5
Ovechkin 62.75 4
Ward 61.11 3
Green 60 2
Backstrom 58.49 1

Category 2: Unblocked shot attempts (Fenwick) prcentage

Player Close-Game Fenwick % Points
Green 61.35 5
Ovechkin 61.25 4
Backstrom 59.75 3
Latta 59.02 2
Burakovsky 58.73 1

Category 3: Zone Starts

Player ZS% Points
Beagle 41.67 5
Fehr 46.75 4
Carlson 47.87 3
Chimera 48.57 2
Backstrom 51.32 1

Category 4: Quality of Competition

Player ZS% Points
Ovechkin 29.89 5
Backstrom 29.82 4
Fehr 29.47 3
Carlson 29.12 2
Orpik 29.03 1


Here, courtesy of War on Ice, is a player usage chart of our 5 finalists:


The Final Ballot: 

Player Points Place
Fehr 7 5
Latta 7 4
Green 7 3
Backstrom 9 2
Ovechkin 13 1

Ladies and gents, your Caps advanced stats player of the month for October 2014, with a grand total of 13 #fancypoints is Alex Ovechkin. 


Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRGB Photography


Caps vs. Red Wings #fancystats recap

The Caps fell to the Red Wings by a score of 4-2. The Caps now have a record of 4-3-2.

5-on-5 shot attempt chart


-Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were 36-27 Caps. Close game shot attempts were 30-21 Caps.

-W-L on faceoffs, 20-20: Backstrom 5-6, Burakovsky 5-1, Kuznetsov 3-3, Beagle 3-3, Brouwer 2-2, Ward 1-0, Chimera 1-0, Latta 0-4, Ovechkin 0-1.

-The Caps best CorsiRel player was Troy Brouwer at +20.45%

-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Liam O’Brien at -25.1%

- Joel Ward and John Carlson were on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts (15).

-Brooks Orpik was on the ice for the most shot attempts against (13).

-The toughest ZS% went to Wilson, Kuznetsov, and O’Brien at 33%

-6 Caps had 100% ZS%: Brouwer, Burakovsky, Backstrom, Ward, Johansson, Ovechkin

-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 50% ZS, -3.99 CorsiRel

Shift chart:


Thoughts on Caps-related thoughts

Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” column is arguably the best hockey column to read on the internet. If you don’t reguarly read Friedman and his 30 thoughts, you’ve been officially notified to start. Friedman’s 30 thoughts from October 28th featured a lot of Caps content. You’ll find them below, as well as some brief thoughts on those thoughts.


Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRGB Photography

22. Before the season, a few Eastern teams thought the combination of Barry Trotz, Todd Reirden, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik would have the biggest influence of any off-season moves in that conference. Can’t argue that so far. It took eight games before Washington allowed 30 shots, and it’s no coincidence the Capitals’ worst game was a 6-1 preseason loss in Buffalo. Niskanen and Orpik didn’t dress for that one.

Adding those two coaches as well the two defenders undoubtedly has had a big influence on the Caps. How could it not? I think the example of what happened in a preseason game without Niskanen and Orpik may be a bit exaggerated, but point taken.

Really, how could the Caps be worse by adding any 2 NHL caliber defenders, given the inexperienced and over-matched players they ran out there last season? On top of that, Mike Green has been healthy so far and Nate Schmidt is getting the playing time he deserves.

Oh, and Adam Oates isn’t the coach anymore, that’s a pretty big deal.

23. From one-to-five on the blueline, their minutes are very even, running from 23:14 (Niskanen) to 19:42 (Karl Alzner). Among returnees, Nate Schmidt (number six) is down 4:15 per game, John Carlson is down 1:21 and Alzner 0:50. Also down significantly: Mike Green (2:53). Green, who is unrestricted after this season, is being watched by other teams, as they wait to see how Brian MacLellan handles things.

It’s not a surprise that the ice time among Caps defenders is more even spread this season. The blue line is much deeper, therefore the Caps don’t need to rely on their top pair(s) as much. Schmidt is the team’s 6th defender, so his ice time decreasing isn’t much of a story. The fact that he’s in Washington and playing regularly is the much more important story.

Mike Green is still seeing 19:50 per game, so it’s not as if he’s getting buried on the depth chart. This is simply a case of the Caps having a much deeper blue line. Less ice time makes it more likely Green will be fresher and healthier come April, which is a good thing.

24. The early reviews are positive. One scout: “Green is trying. He (used to be) sloppy in coverage, bad stick, not finishing checks. Now, he’s staying on the right side of the puck.” MacLellan sees a difference, too. “When other teams played us, the plan was to hit him— finish your checks. It took its toll. Now, we have other options. It eases the pressure on him.”

This scout is obviously much more qualified than me to speak on Green’s coverage, positioning, checking, etc. than I am. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean the scout is right.

Regardless of Green’s gaffes, lapses and so on, since 2007 the Caps have seen 54.5% of all shot attempts while he’s on the ice, which is 21st best of the 366 defensemen who have played 500+ minutes since then. That’s superb. Mike Green is really good. Leave him alone.

25. The Capitals have yet to discuss an extension with Green. “We’ll leave that for later in the season,” the GM said. “Let’s see how this shakes out.”

Does the Caps depth make Green expendable? Well, I think he’s their best defender, so I hope not. But it is hard to see the Caps investing as much, or more, in their defense next season as this one.

26. Another Eastern Conference coach on the Nicklas Backstrom/Eric Fehr/Alexander Ovechkin line: “They still cheat, but not as much. I suspect that’s by design they’re allowed to…you still want opponents to be scared of them. The (Jason) Chimera/(Joel) Ward line, for example, plays differently.”

To me, this basically says that Trotz expect his first line to be responsible, but he’s still going to let Ovi be Ovi. And Nicky be Nicky. These guys should be allowed to “cheat” more than other lines. They are supremely talented offensive players and should be encouraged to put themselves on positions to use those talents.

27. Finally on Washington: MacLellan said new goalie boss Mitch Korn worked with Braden Holtby “to get his arms and legs more aligned with his body.” Sounds important for everyday life, not just hockey.

Mitch Korn is the goalie whisperer. Braden Holtby is an underrated goalie who got way too much flack last season for the Caps struggles. As I’ve said before, I expect Holtby to be considered an elite goalie by the end of this season.


Like I said above, if you don’t read “30 Thoughts” regularly, start doing so. While there’s not always this much Caps-related content, it’s always a great read.




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