NHL

The 12 most troubling numbers that define the Capitals poor play early this season

The 12 most troubling numbers that define the Capitals poor play early this season

The Washington Capitals are off to one of their worst starts of the Alex Ovechkin era. They are under .500 with a 7-9-3 record. They are seventh in the Metropolitan Division. They are chasing first place New Jersey with 11 points. If the playoffs started today, the Caps would miss the ball for the first time since 2013-14.

There are good excuses as to why. The team is heavily injured and missing key players like Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and TJ Oshie. Some of these injury replacement players have also been lost to injury. Still, the Caps seem to have enough talent in the lineup to win more often.

The Caps have struggled, starting slowly and rarely putting together full 60-minute games.

Here are numbers that stand out as worrisome.


7

The number of times the Capitals have given up three or more goals in a period. This is seven times in 19 games. The Capitals are 1-5-1 in those contests. “It’s not a recipe for success,” John Carlson said after the Caps gave up three first-period goals to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. Louis Blues, the third game in a row they have done so.

You cover up bad periods

  • 17-10-2022: 3 goals allowed in 2nd period vs. Vancouver Canucks – 6-4 win
  • 10-20-2022: 3 goals allowed in 3rd period vs. Ottawa Senators – 5-2 loss
  • 05-11-2022: 3 goals allowed in 3rd period vs. Arizona Coyotes – 3-2 loss
  • 09-11-2022: 3 goals allowed in 2nd period vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – 4-1 loss
  • 11-13-2022: 4 goals allowed in 1st period vs Tampa Bay Lightning – 6-3 loss
  • 11-15-2022: 3 goals allowed in 3rd period vs. Florida Panthers – 5-2 loss
  • 11-17-2022: 3 goals allowed in 1st period against St. Louis Blues – Lost 5-4 (SO)

24th

Washington’s power play conversion rate this season is 19.4 percent. John Carlson’s PPG ended a 23-chance cold streak on Thursday. The Capitals also started the season 0-for-9 on the man advantage.

The team relies heavily on Alex Ovechkin, who has scored five of the team’s PPG this season. His teammates have found the back of the net just nine times combined.


2-6-2

The Capitals’ road record this season is fifth-worst in the NHL. The Capitals are averaging 2.50 goals against and giving up 3.30 goals per game away from Capital One Arena. His power play percentage drops to 12.5, second worst in the league. The Capitals have taken the NHL’s sixth-fewest penalties (42) on the road, giving up nine power-play goals (fifth-most in the league).


6

The number of five-on-five goals Conor Sheary has, leading all Capitals players (including Alex Ovechkin). Sheary is a player who fits more in a middle six role. But due to the team’s injuries, he has become one of the team’s most reliable scorers as the likes of Anthony Mantha have struggled. Sheary’s seven goals in all strongpoints this season ranks second on the team. This is good, but it is also bad. Talk about how little Bosses get from everyone else.


Plus-15

According to HockeyViz, the opponent’s offense increases by percentage points compared to the league average when starting defenseman John Carlson is on the ice. That’s the highest increase in opponent danger among all Caps defenders. (Orlov is plus-8.)


28th

Washington’s PDO ranking in November, 0.976. PDO is the sum of shooting percentages (6.8%) and save percentages (90.8%) during five-on-five play. Washington’s DOP in October was 1.029, third highest in the league. This suggests that the Capitals have been very unlucky of late.


Minus-3,4

The difference between Washington’s possession of shot attempts (48.3%) and possession of expected goals (44.9%). Only four teams have a greater gap between quantity and quality: Arizona, Anaheim, Winnipeg and Colorado.


minus-6

Erik Gustafsson’s worst on-ice goal differential. Gustafsson was signed in the offseason by GM Brian MacLellan to play on the team’s third pairing defense. He is aggressive in creating offense in the offensive zone and the Swede is doing just that, with a team-high 53.8 shooting percentage among Caps defensemen. But this is leading to too many goals on the other side. He has been on the ice for 13 goals from 5 against 5 opponents, second only to Martin Fehervary (14). Gustafsson is skating on the first pairing with John Carlson as the team waits to get Dmitry Orlov back from injury.


22.5

Expected goal percentage belonging to the Caps when Connor McMichael is on the ice. That’s the lowest percentage of any player in the entire league who has played at least 30 minutes. (The Capitals’ goal differential is equal at this time: 2 for Washington, 2 for opponents)


1.9

The number of goals Darcy Kuemper has saved above the number predicted by the Moneypuck model (37.9 expected, 36 actual). Kuemper faced the league’s ninth-most expected goals. (Just for the record, Vitek Vanecek saved 0.4 goals above expected, and Ilya Samsonov saved 4.9 goals above expected).

Kuemper has been good, but the struggling Caps defense needs even more from him.


less than 50%

None of Washington’s four starting centers have a faceoff percentage above 50 percent.

Lars Eller: 49.9%
Yevgeny Kuznetsov: 47.0%
Nick Dowd: 44.9%
Dylan Strome: 44.7%

Sure, the matchups don’t matter in the long run, but watching it gives me heartburn.


9

Number of Capitals players who have missed time this season due to injury. The Capitals is the most injured team in the NHL this season.

  • D Alexander Alexeyevshoulder, returned in November
  • F Nicklas Backstromhip resurfacing, chronology unknown
  • F Connor BrownACL, probably out of season
  • D John Carlsonlower body, missed six games
  • F Beck Malenstynsaid, 6-8 weeks
  • F TJ Oshie“indefinite”
  • F Tom WilsonACL, expected return around December
  • F Carl Hagelinhip, indefinite
  • Dmitry Orlovknee, day by day



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