Caps Preview: Week 14
The Caps rang in 2015 with a Winter Classic victory over the Blackhawks before going on to defeat the Panthers at the Verizon Center. With three games this week, they’ll need to remain sharp if they want to earn points. This time last year, a number of losses derailed their season and prohibited them from another playoff appearance.
This week’s slate of opponents includes the Leafs, Flyers, and Red Wings. The first two games are on the road and back-to-back. The Caps’ 52.2% FenClose is ninth in the NHL, while the Wings’ 52.9% comes in at sixth. Meanwhile, the Flyers and Leafs are in possession hell (46.3% and 45.9% FenClose, respectively.)
Wednesday 1/7 at TOR
Score-adjusted Corsi: 44.9% (28th)
Power Play: 20.1% (13th)
Penalty Kill: 82.2% (12th)
PDO: 101.5 (3rd)
Despite being a poor team with even worse coaching and management, the Leafs are fourth in the Atlantic with 45 points (21-16-3). Much of this can be attributed to their insanely high PDO, which will rebound soon enough. It’s worth noting that the Leafs’ 5v5 save percentage is .921, good for 18th in the League. However, you can’t pin their woes on Bernier and Reimer: the Leafs’ SA60 (shots allowed per 60 minutes) is 33.1, second only to the Sabres.
The Caps and Leafs met earlier this season–November 29, to be exact. The game ended in a 6-2 loss for the Caps, who outshot the Leafs 37-23. However, the Caps were playing the second half of a back-to-back, and their defensive miscues proved costly. This time around, both teams will have several days of rest, and the Leafs will look at snap a two-game losing streak (3-1 and 5-1 losses to the Wild and Jets, respectively.)
Thursday 1/8 at PHI
Score-adjusted Corsi: 46.9% (25th)
Power Play: 21.9% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 74.2% (30th)
PDO: 100.0 (20th)
The 2014-15 season is halfway complete, and the Caps haven’t yet faced the Flyers. Thursday, this will be rectified: the Caps visit Wells Fargo Center for the teams’ first meeting of the season. As mentioned above, this game is the Caps’ second in as many days. Averaging 9.4 penalty minutes per game, the Flyers are one of the NHL’s more-penalized teams. Given the bad blood between the two teams, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a few gloves dropped. The Caps should strive to play a disciplined game, despite their playing two games in a row–at sixth overall, the Flyers’ power play is quite potent.
The same can’t be said of their penalty kill, which is a League-worst 74.2%. As a result, drawing penalties is critical for the Caps. While their power play has struggled as of late–if dropping to third overall can be called struggling–playing against the League’s worst PK is a good opportunity to revitalize it and establish the largest lead possible.
The Flyers are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, during which they’ve been outscored by a terrifying margin of 19-9. They have two elite offensive talents in Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux, whose goal totals (15 and 13 respectively) account for 26.4% of the Flyers’ 106 goals tallied, thus far. Before facing the Caps, they’ll look to turn things around against the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night.
Saturday 1/10 at DET
Score-adjusted Corsi: 54% (4th)
Power Play: 23.1% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 86.9% (4th)
PDO: 98.3 (27th)
Four seems to be a common number among the Red Wings’ rankings in certain areas of their play. Their score-adjusted Corsi, power play, and penalty kill are all fourth-best in the NHL, while their PDO is fourth-worst. The Red Wings haven’t been a victim of bad goaltending, either.
Jimmy Howard has posted a .921 SV% and 2.08 GAA, while Petr Mrazek (.917 SV%, 2.35 GAA) and Jonas Gustavsson (.908 SV% and 2.30 GAA) have been serviceable backups. The Red Wings’ low PDO lies in their ridiculously shooting percentage (6.40%, second-worst in the NHL.)
If these numbers tell us anything, it’s that this game will be the Caps’ most difficult–by far. The Red Wings’ usual offensive talents will be in full force, from points leaders Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to Johan Franzen and Darren Helm. Stats don’t lie, and the Red Wings prove this: they’re poised to continue their epic playoff appearance streak with 49 points and a 20-10-9 record, good for third in the Atlantic. (Note: at the time of writing, the Caps have 47 points.)
All stats courtesy of stats.hockeyanalysis.com.