The Caps didn’t suffer a regulation loss in Week 5 and enter Week 6 with a record of 6-5-3, which is good for 4th in the Metropolitan (that name still sucks) Division.
The Caps are facing some tough possession forwards this week, particularly over the weekend, which could spell trouble for the Caps’ “shutdown D.” Here’s a look at the 3 games for the week.
Photo by Amanda Bowen, RRGB Photography
11/11 vs. Columbus
The Blue Jackets have lost 8 in row and find themselves in the basement of the Metro (it sucks less when we call it that) Division with a record of 4-9-1. The Jackets have been decimated by injuries. This is a game the Caps should win. Columbus is ranked 24th in the league in unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5, as just 47.89% of said attempts go in their favor.
The Blue Jackets combined shooting% and save% is 29th in the league, which indicates they have not been getting many breaks. Combine that with their poor play and it’s easy to see why they find themselves in the cellar. So, if the Jackets get a couple lucky bounces that results in some goals, start sacrificing something to the PDO gods during the game (PDO is the name of the stat that combines shooting% and save%) to try to get some bounces going in the Caps’ favor.
One player to watch is Ryan Johanson. The 22 year old ranks 12th in the league with 16 points despite missing most of training camp because of a contract dispute. He’s a stud.
11/14 vs. New Jersey
The Devils are currently 6-6-2, one point behind the Caps in the Metro. The Devils have been a so-so possession team, ranking 20th in the league with 49.42% of unblocked 5-on-5 shot attempts going in their favor. In terms of puck luck, the Devils combined shooting% and save% is 6th best in the league at 101.47. That’s not necessarily unsustainable, but they have received more bounces than the average team in the league, so they may have some bad bounces in their future. Hopefully Friday will be that day.
The Caps trounced the Devils 6-2 in their only meeting so far this season. As you already know, the Devils have a guy named Jagr who used to play for the Caps. He currently leads them with 9 points. He’s also the best relative possession forward in the entire NHL. He could, quite possibly, eat alive the Caps “shutdown” D pair of Orpik and Carlson.
11/15 at St. Louis
Facing one of the better teams in the NHL on the back end of a back-to-back isn’t ideal. If the Caps come out flat or get dead legs late in the game, the Blues will pounce. Their 53.78% of unblocked shot attempts is 6th best in the NHL. They rank 9th in puck luck with a PDO of 101.02.
Keep an eye on Vladimir Tarasenko. This guy is the real deal. He currently sits 9th in the league with 17 points. He’s also been the Blues best possession player so far this season.
With a 6-5 loss to the Coyotes, the Caps have now lost four straight. Their record stands at 4-5-2.
-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.
The Caps prevailed over the Panthers 2-1 in a shootout. The Caps are now 3-0-2 on the year. Here’s a look at some stats from the game, particularly the #fancystats.
-Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were 49-35 Caps. Close-game shot attempts were also in favor of the Caps, 48-32.
-W-L on faceoffs, 41-22 Caps. In no particular order: Burakovsky 2-3, Backstrom 15-6, Laich 3-1, Brouwer 4-0, Kuznetsox 6-4, Chimera 1-1, Fehr 10-7.
-The Caps best CorsiRel player was Andre Burakovsky at +28.44%
-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Chris Brown at -29.17%
-Brooks Orpik was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts for with 29.
-Matt Niskanen was on the ice for the most Panthers shot attempts with 20.
-The toughest ZS% went to Matt Niskanen at 50%
-6 Caps had a 100% ZS%: Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Liam O’brien, and Chris Brown
-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 80% ZS, +18.26 CorsiRel
All data pulled from War on Ice.
In case you haven’t heard, the Caps recently released a fan-voted list of the top 40 Caps in franchise history. On this list was Alex Semin, who I’d consider the most divisive player in franchise history. Yes, he’s even more divisive than Mike Green or Brooks Orpik’s contract. No doubt, Semin was frustrating at times. He took penalties in areas of the ice that seemed unnecessary. But Semin was often given an unfair amount of grief in his time here. He’s an under appreciated player, so I’m glad to see him being recognized as one of the better players in the history of the Caps.
Semin was one of my favorite players during his time here. I spent far more time than I ever hoped to defending him. Maybe I’m just a paranoid Sasha lover, but I’d imagine some people will bemoan Semin’s inclusion when he is celebrated as making the top 40. When they do, my fellow Sasha lovers, here is a list of rebuttals when they start to talk about him being lazy, enigmatic, and undisciplined.
-Semin scored 198 goals for the Caps, good for 5th all-time. At 469 games played, he is the only player in the top-7 to be under 500 GP.
-Semin’s 211 assist places him 19th on the Caps all-time list.
-Semin is the franchise’s 16th leading scorer in terms of points.
-During his time with the Caps (2003-2012), Semin’s 1.45 Goals per 60 minutes of play were second to only Alex Ovechkin. His 1.56 Assists per 60 were 5th among all players who played 82 total games or more for the Caps between 2003-12. His 3.01 points per 60 rank second, again only trailing Ovechkin.
-His G/60 ranked 4th among the 852 NHL players who played 900+ minutes between 2003-12. His P/60 ranked 29th
-Semin’s 53.25 close-game CF% ranked 82nd among the same group.
Semin also made the players around him better. WOWY stats are only available back to 2007, but here’s Semin’s teammates fared playing with him vs. playing without him. These are the 10 players who spent the most TOI with Semin from 2007-12.
Every one of these players, the 10 who skated the most amount of minutes with Semin from 2007-12, saw an improvement in their possession numbers when playing with him as opposed to without him. In fact, the top 26 skaters, in terms of TOI together, to skate with Semin during this time period saw an improvement in their possession numbers.
Alex Semin was excellent during his time here in Washington, despite what some fans’ frustration level with him might have led you to believe. His place among the top 40 Caps ever is well deserved. While I’d argue he’d be pretty high up on the list if the 40 players happened to be ranked, I’m satisfied just knowing that the lazy narratives on Semin didn’t win out when it came to voting for the 40 greatest Caps in franchise history.
The Caps beat the Devils 6-2 to move to 2-0-2. Here’s a look at some of the #fancystats from the game.
-Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were 45-35 in favor of the Devils. Close-game shot attempt totals were 34-25, Devils.
-W-L on faceoffs, 37-32 for the Devils. In no particular order: Ward 2-1, Fehr 6-10, Brakovsky 4-4, Backstrom 5-5, Burakovsky 4-6, Brouwer 5-6, O-Brien 0-1, Brown 1-1, Laich 3-3.
-The Caps best CorsiRel player was Eric Fehr at 39.61%
-The Caps worst Corsi Rel player was Chris Brown at -22.73%
-Mike Green and Karl Alzner were on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts with 13.
-Nate Schmidt was on the ice for the most shot attempts against with 19.
-The toughest ZS% went to Andre Burakovsky at 33.33%
-The easiest ZS% went to Troy Brouwer at 77.78%
-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: 50% ZS, -8.23 CF%
All data pulled from War on Ice
The Caps fell to the Sharks in a shootout, 6-5. The Caps are now 1-0-2 on the season. Here’s a look at some stats from the game, particularly the #fancystats.
-The Caps had a 5-on-5 shot attempt advantage of 55-37. In “close” score situations, the advantage was 6-3, Sharks.
-Caps W-L on faceoffs. Backstrom 8-11, Burakovsky 3-6, Kuznetsov 3-5, Johansson 1-0, Latta 3-1, Ward 4-2, Laich 4-2.
-The Caps best CorsiRel player was Green at +27.01%
-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Laich at -21.93%
-Nick Backstrom was on the ice for the most Caps shot attempts with 25.
-Matt Niskanen was on the ice for the most Sharks shot attempts against with 20 (But 24 for the Caps)
-The toughest ZS% went to Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson, who didn’t start any shifts in the offensive zone.
-Liam O’Brien and Evgeny Kuznetsov saw the highest ZS% at 83.3%.
-Only 3 Caps were below 50% CF: Laich, Chimera, and Ward.
-Nate Schmidt (possession monster) update: Nate was on the ice for 13 shot attempts for and 7 against for a CF% of 64% and a CorsiRel % of +5.79
All stats pulled from War on Ice
The Caps beat the Bruins 4-0 to move to 1-0-1 on the season. Alex Ovechkin had 2 goals while Mike Green and John Carlson added 1 a piece. Here are some stats from the game.
-The Bruins had a 5-on-5 shot attempt advantage of 42-25. The close-game 5-on-5 shot attempt totals were 8-7 in favor of the Bruins.
-Caps on faceoffs: Backstrom 3 for 10, Burakovsky 1 for 5, Laich 2 for 8, Kuznetsov 2 for 4, Ward 1 for 2, O’Brien 1 for 1, Brouwer 1 for 1. Ouch.
-The Caps best CorsiRel player was Karl Alzner at +33.30%
-The Caps worst CorsiRel player was Brooks Orpik at -34.00%
-Matt Niskanen led all Caps in on-ice shot attempts for with 16
-Brooks Orpik was on the ice for most shot attempts against with 21
-Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera saw the toughest zone starts, starting just 25% of their shifts in the offensive zone.
-Liam O’Brien, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Marcus Johnasson saw 100% ZS%.
-Only 3 Caps had a CF% above 50%. Karl Alzner (57.69%) , Matt Niskanen (57.14%), and Joel Ward (60%).
-Only 4 Bruins had a CF% below 50%, but who cares about their names
-Nate Schmidt, possession monster update: -15.35% CorsiRel. Not even Nate is perfect.
All numbers courtesy of War on Ice
Those looking to buy 2015 Winter Classic tickets through resellers like StubHub or NHL TicketExchange should focus on two things right now if they’re wondering how much they might have to pay for tickets:
- Where the game will be held: The venue for this game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the host Washington Capitals has not been determined but, when it comes to ticket prices, a football stadium would be preferable over a baseball stadium. As you’ll see below in data from SeatGeek, this often results in lower secondary market ticket prices since the football stadiums have a larger seating capacity.
- When to buy tickets: Based on previous Winter Classics, the key to buying tickets through the secondary marketing will be to wait. History shows that if you can wait until just under a week before the Winter Classic to buy your tickets, you’ll likely pay less for them.
Here’s some data and insight from Jason Weingold at SeatGeek that dives deeper on this:
- “The Washington Capitals will be participating in the Winter Classic for the second time, and will be hosting the game for the first time. While the location is yet to be announced, prevailing speculation says that the game will take place at Nationals Park over FedEx Field, which does not bode well for fans hoping to score cheap tickets. Nationals Park can hold 41,418 fans — less than half of FedEx Field’s capacity of 85,000 – which means there would be less supply and higher prices on the resale market. For the last Winter Classic held at a baseball stadium (Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in 2012), the average price paid for a seat on the secondary market was $471, nearly double the combined average ticket price of the 2011 and 2014 games held at football stadiums ($245). [Author's note: See the next bullet point from SeatGeek for how last year's game in Michigan had a big effect on this].”
- “An average ticket for the 2011 Winter Classic featuring the Penguins and Capitals at Heinz Field (capacity of 68,111) cost fans an average of $409 on the secondary market, and there were a total of about 11,000 tickets resold. The 2012 game pit the Rangers against the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park (seats 46,967) in Philadelphia, and the average price of a ticket rose 15% to $471; there were also more tickets resold — an estimated total of 13,000. The next Winter Classic in 2014 featured a long-anticipated matchup between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs at the Big House, Michigan Stadium, which welcomed a record 105,491 fans, and that increased supply of tickets (an estimated 24,000 were resold on secondary markets) brought the average resale price down to $172 per seat.”
- “The NHL has also experimented with other outdoor games in the past. The 2013-2014 season featured five other outdoor games: the Heritage Classic in Canada and four games in the United States collectively called the “Stadium Series.” The first Stadium Series game took place at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, where the average ticket cost $190. The Rangers then played twice at Yankee Stadium — first against the Devils (average ticket price of $231) and second against the Islanders ($141). The fourth game was between the Penguins and Blackhawks at Soldier Field in Chicago (average ticket price of $248). The 2011 Heritage Classic featured the Flames and Canadiens at McMahon Stadium in Calgary (average ticket price of $253), and the 2014 game set the Canucks against the Senators at BC Place in Vancouver (average ticket price of $153).”
- “The 2015 Winter Classic should end up being a record-breaking home game for the Capitals in terms of demand. Since 2010, the most in-demand regular season home game for the Caps was on Feb. 6, 2011 against Pittsburgh, when fans spent an average of $166 per ticket on the secondary market. Even in the playoffs, the highest average ticket price we’ve recorded for a Caps game at the Verizon Center is $221 for Game 4 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Rangers.”
- “The Capitals have only hosted the Blackhawks once since we began collecting pricing data, and that came on April 11 earlier this year. The average ticket to that game at the Verizon Center cost $122 on the resale market.”
- “By taking a look at pricing trends for the past three Winter Classic games, we’ve found that the best time to buy a ticket has been a little less than a week before the game. In 2011, the average ticket price bottomed out at $343 five days before the game, having fallen 24% in 17 days from a peak of $450. Prices for the 2012 game followed a similar pattern, dipping to a low of $391 six days before the drop of the puck (down 22% from $500 with two weeks to go before the game). Last season, the average price fell continuously throughout December, dropping 57% from $239 with 30 days to go before the game to just $103 per ticket the night before.”
Thanks to Jason and SeatGeek for pulling that all together. They also provided the chart below, which illustrates how waiting until just under a week before the game is often the best approach for finding the lowest secondary ticket market prices for a Winter Classic.
In my recent post about the Caps signings in free agency, I was critical of the deal to which the Caps signed Brooks Orpik. However, in that post I also mentioned that Orpik started more shifts in the defensive zone, as well as faced the toughest competition among all Penguins defenseman last season. So, while Orpik’s puck possession numbers are troubling, the zone starts and quality of competition are important to keep in mind. Make no mistake, I still think this is a terrible contract for the Caps. However, I thought it might be helpful to look at other defenseman around the league who faced zone starts and/or competition similar to Orpik’s this past season. The one difference to the ZS% from my last post is that I am going to look at it only in close-game situations, which is explained more below.
FF%-FF% (Fenwick For %) is the percentage of unblocked shot attempts a team takes when that player is on the ice. Think of it like +/-, but for shots. Instead of 0 being even like with +/-, the 50% mark is even. It is a metric used to measure puck possession. If you’re skeptical as to how much this stat matters, here is a chart showing the top Fenwick teams of recent years.
ZS%-This is the percentage (ratio) of offensive zone to defensive zone face-offs for a player. A lower percentage indicates a player is assigned “tougher” minutes, as he is on the ice for more defensive zone face-offs.
QOC TOI%-The quality of competition a player faces, as measured by the average time on ice of the opposing players he faced
“Close” game situations are games within a goal or tied in the 1st or 2nd period, or tied in the 3rd. It is used so score effects don’t inflate or deflate a player’s numbers in blowout situations. All FF% and ZS% below are in close-game 5-on-5 situations only. QOC TOI% is from all situations at 5-on-5
The first chart looks at how Orpik fared compared to players with a similar close-game ZS%. The ranking is among all defenseman who played 62 or more games during the 2013-14 season.
Notes about the chart:
-Every player on this chart performed significantly better than Orpik in terms of puck possession. In fact, Orpik is the only defender on the chart to be a negative puck possession player. In other words, he’s the only defender from the chart that saw his team get out shot when he was on the ice in close-game situations.
-Only Goligoski faced competition as tough as Orpik. Goligoski also has the same ZS% as Orpik, but had a FF% 5.2% better than Orpik’s. To put that in perspective at a team level (admittedly, not a totally relevant comparison), a 5.2% difference in puck possession is the difference, in the 2013-14 season, between Chicago (55.2%) and the Coyotes (50.0%).
-Relative to their teams, the Stars performed 1.3% better in terms of FF% when Goligoski was on the ice. The Pens FF% was 3.8% worse with Orpik on the ice compared to when he was on the bench.
The second chart looks at how Orpik fared compared to players who faced a similar level of competition. The ranking is among all defenseman who played 62 or more games during the 2013-14 season.
Notes from the chart:
-The ZS% is fairly similar for 4 of the 5 players, Timonen being the exception.
-Once again, Orpik has the worst possession numbers of the 5 players. He does have some company on the wrong side of 50% this time, in the form of Ben Lovejoy. But even relative to Lovejoy, Orpik finds himself a worse possession player by 1.9%. To put that in perspective at a team level (admittedly, not a totally relevant comparison), 1.9% was the difference, in the 2013-14 season, in possession between the Stars (51.9%) and the Coyotes (50.0%).
It is certainly important to keep in mind that Orpik faced very stiff competition and ZS%, especially relative to the rest of the Penguins’ defenders. However, when compared to players given similar assignments around the league, Orpik’s possession numbers are still pretty weak. My next post will look at how Orpik stacks up compared to others Caps D from last season.
Thanks to ExtraSkater.com for most of the data used in this post.
Caps play-by-play man John Walton: “Thug hockey back” in Philly; Calls Flyers goalie Ray Emery’s actions “a disgrace” and worthy of NHL suspension
From Washington Capitals radio play-by-play man John Walton’s call of the Ray Emery-Braden Holtby incident last night (Listen to it on Walton’s blog through the link below):
“Emery takes him down. Oh my goodness. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Ray Emery sucker punching Holtby. He’s still punching him. The referee hasn’t stopped it yet. Oh what a dirty play by Ray Emery. Taking Braden Holtby down. Thug hockey back in town. You’re losing by a touchdown and you just grab a sweater. If you think that’s gonna get you standings points, think again. The Buffalo Sabres are the only thing saving this team from being the bottom of the Eastern Conference and now they’ve taken it to the alley in the dirtiest way possible. Ray Emery went after Holtby. Holtby did not want it. He absolutely didn’t want to fight him. And Emery sucker punched him six times. It’s the only cheer you’re gonna hear out of this building tonight. That’s a disgrace. Ray Emery, a disgrace what he just did.”
“Suspend that guy. Suspend him right now,” Walton went on to say regarding Emery.
A full audio clip of Walton calling the Emery-Holtby goalie altercation is available on his Capitals Voice blog.
And here’s a great shot of Michael Latta being waved off during the fight by referee François St-Laurent:
— James G. Heuser (@JamesHeuser) November 2, 2013