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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Curious Case of Justin Peters

I want to start off by saying that as I analyze Justin Peters, I am doing so as objectively as possible. This is a straight forward analysis.

Who am I kidding? I just completely lied to you. My goal of this is to ultimately come to the conclusion that everything will be alright with Peters. I have my doubts, but I will still try.

Peters has churned out bad performance after bad performance after bad performance. With the team that has had two relatively good goaltenders for the better part of four or five seasons, frustration has set in virtually every time Peters has manned the pipes. In his last five games, Peters has let in 19 goals. That's pretty terrible. That's, like, really terrible.

As someone who defended Holtby during his horrid run earlier this year, I figured it would only be fair to try to do the same for Peters. So...let's see if I can find any sort of positive trends with Peters to assure everyone (including myself) that everything will be ok with our backup goaltender.

I thought that, first, we should look at how Peters compares to other backups in the league. This season, 37 goaltenders who would not be considered "starters" have suited up for NHL teams. I thought that we could look at each backup goaltenders goals against average per game, and save percentage at even strength. I think even strength save percentage is the fairest way to look at a goaltenders true save percentage. Here is the graph I made.

Now, the graph is set up so that the closer a point is to the upper right corner, the better the goaltender is. The size of the circle represents how many games that goaltender has played (the bigger, the more games). You can see that Michael Hutchinson has been a beast of a backup for Winnipeg. Martin Jones has been great for the Kings. Keith Kinkaid and Troy Gooseneck (New Jersey and San Jose, respectively) have been great in small sample sizes. The dark circle more towards the bottom left corner is Justin Peters. He's not in a great position. He's comparable to Petr Mrazek (Detroits third goaltender), Ray Emery (Philadelphia) and, to an extent, Anton Khudobin, who unseated Peters of his backup role in Carolina. Peters is actually most comparable to Eddie Lack of Vancouver. I removed Lack from the graph because the two virtually overlapped one another. Lack has a .899 save percentage at even strength, and a 3.30 goals against average.

Now, that's not good. There are many goaltenders who are in fact performing better than Peters at this point in the season at even strength, and that's pretty discouraging.

But, again, Peters has only played in seven games. That's not really enough of a sample size to make any sort of judgement. So, let's take a look at some other visuals to try to figure this out.

War-On-Ice

This chart shows all of the shots at even strength for this season. On the left, we see that Peters has seen some shots from some pretty high percentage areas. As you can see, the darker the green, the higher the opposition shooting percentage. On the right, you see the shot locations and shooting percentages in relation to the rest of the league. The redder, the worse. So, Peters does a little worse than the average goaltender.

But again, that's a small sample size. Let's include last years numbers as well. 

War-On-Ice
Whoa, ok. So, including last year, Peters does worse in certain areas on the ice, which are pretty high percentage shooting areas.

But, let's go ahead and just include Peters' entire career, from 2009 to today.

War-On-Ice

Ok! That's good. We are seeing a little bit of blue on the board. They are in the low percentage areas, but remember, we are looking for some positives.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what exactly Peters has difficulty with. It turns out Peters does a pretty bad in two different shot types over the course of his career....

War-On-Ice

Deflections and.....

War-On-Ice

Tip ins. To be fair, those are pretty difficult to stop. 

But, I wanted to see how Peters compares to other goaltenders in the Caps past. The data at War On Ice only goes back to 2008. The Caps have dressed eight other goaltenders since that time. So let's look at the graph.

But, before we do, let's first understand what this graph measures. The y-axis of this graph measures adjusted save percentage. What is adjusted save percentage? Here's War On Ice's definition:

"This adjusts for the fact that some teams give up more high-quality shots, while others give up more low-quality shots. This is the weighted-average of SvPctHigh, SvPctMed, and SvPctLow, where the weights correspond to the league-wide percentage of shots from each of those areas. In other words, this is a goalies save percentage if they faced a league average proportion of shots from each of the three shooting zones (high, medium, and low probability of success). "

And here is a diagram of where the SvPctHigh (blue), SVPctMed (red) and SVPctLow (yellow):

War-On-Ice

Now, the x-axis measures unadjusted save percentage. The color measures the shots per game that the face on average. The bluer the more shots they face, the redder the less. Alright, so here's the graph.

War-On-Ice

OH GOD. Do you even see where Peters is located? Look in the lower left. No, lower. No, even lower. THAT IS NOT GOOD. That is really really bad. I mean, he is facing far less shots than every guy on that list...and he's doing vastly worse than Brent Johnson. Ugh, not good.

Ok, so everything you have seen makes Peters seem, well, pretty bad. So, what conclusion could I come up with?

He won't ever be great for the Caps. But, he will improve on his numbers.

Goaltenders tend to eventually head towards the league average. It can take some longer to get to than others, but they all eventually get there. The league average is .920. Peters won't get there. He never has. But, his career average before this season was .904. He will get there...eventually. He's only 28, and there is no reason to believe he will regress, as he's technically entering his prime years.

There is statistically no reason to believe we will see a vast improvement from what we are seeing now. Well, that's kind of a lie. Consistent .900 save percentage performances is better than his .727 save percentage efforts, like last game against Toronto. He's below average at even strength, and he is awful on the penalty kill, with the 64th ranked save percentage at just .667 (out of 67 goaltenders that have dressed this season). 

I can't honestly say that Peters will vastly turn his game around like Holtby has. But, what I can say is that Peters won't consistently give up four or five goals a game. But, you should always be nervous when he mans the pipes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Caps Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving is a time where we, well, give thanks. Everyone sits back and looks at all the good things in their lives, and then they eat a lot of food.

The Caps are no different. They should all have things that they are thankful for. So I turned to some of you to say what the Caps are thankful for. And for the most part....

...you are all mean. You are all mean, mean people. But let's take a look anyway.


Yeah, he probably should be thankful for that.

I have never been a fan of Volpatti ever since he arrived in Washington. I just don't think he is very good...at all. The guy is a known enforcer, which is a role that even The Rolling Stone knows is coming to an end. His fenwick percentage last year was atrocious at 39.46 percent on five on five close game situations. But, then you remember, well, everyone had a pretty terrible fenwick percentage last year. But, then you say, ah, let's compare it to the team average. And then you realize that it is 9.42 less than the average of the team last season. Yikes.

So, the guy's brought in to fight, right? Sure, he had five last year, that's ok. But look at the guy's on this roster that can fight and can play decent hockey. Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Chris Brown, Liam O'Brien. Young guys who can play effectively.

Volpatti missed the beginning of the season due to a neck injury, and he has still yet to play in a game. But when he is fully healthy, is this guy going to even play in a game? I don't see why he would.

So yes, Aaron Volpatti should be thankful for the fact that he's paid $575,000 to hopefully stay off the ice.


Jay Beagle does have a lot of people talk about how hard he works.

I think Jay Beagle is a really hard worker. I think that he's also not a top six forward, and I think that's why everyone loves to poke fun at him.

Beagle is an excellent find for the Washington Capitals. He appears to have a strong locker room presence and is a leader by example for this team. But for the love of God, he's not a top six forward. Even Hockey's Future knew he never would be when they wrote his player profile (Presumably in 2010)
Beagle will compete for a lower line role with the Capitals in training camp.  Beagle's ability to play a wide variety of roles and a willingness to compete all over the ice make him a favorite with coaches, teammates, and fans. His scoring ability and technical skills are not yet developed enough to play a top-six role, and may never be, but with his determination and hustle he is well-suited for an energy depth forward spot.

Yes! That's like a perfect description of him. Beagle is ok when he plays against ok competition, and he needs to be utilized consistently as a fourth line guy. If he's such a hard worker, use him as that grinding forward that Barry Trotz is so used to seeing. I just don't understand the mindset of having the offensive talent that the Caps have, and say, 'hey, let's give undrafted Jay Beagle a shot at the top line.' No, never again.


Yeah, he's pretty amazing.

The consistently underrated Swede is the most complete player this team has. Yes, Ovechkin's the best goal scorer, but he simply doesn't have that offensive touch that Backstrom has. Few players have the ability to find a pass that Backstrom can. Oh, and he's pretty awesome defensively too. Even Trotz agrees he's the best guy on this team.

But just how much should the Caps players be thankful for Backstrom? Well, for starters, he makes just about every player better on the ice when he plays with them. But Backstrom also leads the team in assists, and quietly is in the top of the league in the same category as well. I mean, he's all about giving, and isn't that what Thanksgiving's all about? Or, I guess that's Christmas. Whatever.

The entire world should be thankful for Nicklas Backstrom.


Oh my God. I can almost see the venom in this tweet. The deep hatred for Mike Green.

I will literally argue to the death in support for Mike Green. I legitimately think he is the third most important skater on this team.

I get why some people don't like him. He has had some pretty boneheaded defensive plays in his career, and I think fuel was added to the fire of the "I hate Mike Green" party when he got 18 penalty minutes in one period of hockey. I get that.

But, let's honestly take a look at just how awesome Mike Green is. He was nothing short of fantastic for the Caps last year possession-wise. In fact, he was among one of the better pairings in the league last year with Dmitry Orlov.

Now, he continues doing it again with Nate Schmidt. Playing as the third pair allows he and Schmidt to sit back and feast on the opposition in their offensive zone. In fact, of the defensemen that have played more than a game for the Caps, no one has a higher fenwick percentage than Mike Green's 59.68 percent in five on five close game situations. That's phenomenal! He has the second-least goals against per 60 minutes of play on the team at 2.25. Again, that's against less competitive competition, but it is still good.

On top of that, teams would absolutely love to have a scoring threat from the blue line like Mike Green. He is a huge threat to score when he's on the ice, especially on the power play. In fact, among active defensemen, Green is 13th in total points, and those ahead of him have played significantly more games than Green. The only player in the top 25 among points leaders for defensemen that has played less than Green is Keith Yandle, who has played four games less than Green, and trails him by 41 points.


Yes. Yes he should be.

So yes, the Caps do have some things to be thankful for this holiday season. Marcus Johansson can be thankful for a youthful grouping pushing him to elevate his game. Brooks Orpik can be thankful for the fact that the pressure bloggers are putting on his shoulders is just figurative and not literal. Braden Holtby can be thankful for Korn. And we all can be thankful that we get to sit here and enjoy another non-locked out Caps season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game Recap: Caps Vs. Coyotes (2-1 Caps Overtime Win)

After two straight losses, and bad losses at that, the Caps looked to end their losing streak against the Coyotes. At first, it looked likely, but then as the game carried on, the Caps began to fall out of it. Braden Holtby kept the Caps in it, battling shot after shot. And once the overtime began, it was the Capitals' Eric Fehr who struck first, giving the Caps the win.




Positives

Jay Beagle - I'm officially going to stop giving this guy crap. Really, the only reason why I ever do in the first place is because I don't think he should be on the first, second or even third line. But Beagle has been performing quite well. His goal tonight was really one of two serious offensive chances the Caps got on five on five. He also works his tail off, which is what virtually every Cap says about him. I still think he is a fourth line player, maybe a third. And tonight he did play on the third, and he certainly looked like he belonged.

Brooks Orpik - I actually think that was one of his better games he's played in a while. He finished with a positive corsi (54%), good for sixth highest on the team and tops among Caps defensemen. I'm not quite sure why he was the Palm Player of the Game, but, then again, I disagree with that award virtually all the time. But he certainly earned his award in overtime. It was Orpik that took the point shot that gave Fehr the rebound goal. Solid game for the physical forward, who was certainly physical.

Braden Holtby - He strung another solid game. Remember when everyone was freaking out about him? Why? Why did you do that? The guy has stopped 112 of the last 118 shots he's faced in the last four games, good for a .949 save percentage. Did you honestly think he was going to stay at a .890 save percentage all season? On top of that, the Caps are still maintaining a low amount of shots against them, which will be excellent in the long run. Now, they just got to start generating some offense, and then things will really start rolling.

Negatives

Lack of Offense From Top Lines - That's now three plus games without a goal from a top six forward, according to Japers Rink. That is pretty awful. If guys like  Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom aren't generating offense, the Caps won't win. In fact, well, they haven't. They lost in a laugher of a game to the New Jersey Devils and then proceeded to get immediately outplayed against the St. Louis Blues. Oh, and they just squeaked by the Coyotes. The defense is getting the job done. Holtby is getting the job done. The forwards are just not. That's what is separating the Caps from being a top team right now, which is odd, because when has this team ever struggled with offense? Pretty much never since the Ovechkin era, which is why I believe it's just a matter of time before all of this magically clicks together. Just be patient.

Tom Wilson - I get that he was the "Honest Abe Player of the Game." I get that he is still only a few games into the season after coming back from his injury, and I get that he had a very physical game. All of those things are excellent, but I just don't think he played well as a top line forward this evening. Were his hits great? Yes. But is that his sole responsibility on the top line? No. He needs to generate some offense, and tonight, he wasn't. He wasn't at all. And it showed, Fehr eventually saw some time on the top line. He needs to improve if he wants to stay with Backstrom and Ovechkin, and man, oh man, do I hope he does.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Eric Fehr - 75% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Troy Brouwer - 75% (89% offensive zone start)
  • Marcus Johansson - 65% (89% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 61% (88% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 60% (57% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Tom Wilson - 32% (17% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 35% (29% offensive zone start)
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 36% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 42% (78% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera and Joel Ward - 43% (73% offensive zone start)
Team Total Corsi - Even, 50%

Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Fenwick Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is for 5 on 5 even strength time close game situations only, through 18 games.

Graph Via War On Ice

Scoring

Goal - Jay Beagle (2)
- Assist - Jason Chimera (2)

Goal - Eric Fehr (OT) (3)
- Assists - Brooks Opik (5), John Carlson (10)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 23 saves on 24 shots, .958 save percentage

Quote of the Night



"Holts? Great. I mean, I think he's great every night. I mean, I'm....he's a great goalie, so..." - Jay Beagle, stuttering through his quote because he couldn't understand why anyone would question how good Holtby is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Game Recap: Caps vs. Blue Jackets (4-2 Caps Win)

All of the sudden, the Capitals look like they are entering a bit of a hot streak. After a big first period that left the Caps with a 3-1 lead, they never looked back and collected their third straight win over divisional rival Columbus.



  Positives

Marcus Johansson - Can we really say enough about this guy? With his two goals tonight, Johansson now has eight points in his last six games. Oh, and he already has as many goals this season as he did last year...that's absurd. Barry Trotz has clearly figured out how to work with Johansson, and Mojo is turning into the exact type of player the Caps desperately need...a bonafide second line scorer that's a threat every time he hits the ice...something they haven't had since Alex Semin.

Jay Beagle - I have whined and moaned and groaned about this guy on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom. I will continue to whine and moan and groan until he is no longer on the top line, because I simply don't believe that he has the right skill set to work with those two. But, I will be happy to give credit where credit is due, Beagle had a very good game tonight. He won board battles, and even tallied a beautiful assist on Ovechkin's second goal, a between the legs drop pass to the great eight. I still don't want to see him on the top line, because I don't think he can fit in the long run, but man I hope he proves me wrong.

Karl Alzner - He was a machine tonight, one of his better games all season. On the penalty kill in the third period, Alzner blocked two critical shots right in a row. He and Niskanen have made for a great pair, and it's hard to believe any other team has as good of a second line defensive pairing as Alzner and Niskanen. Alzner is quietly efficient, and when you play the role like Alzner plays for this team, being quietly efficient is golden.

Negatives

Braden Holtby - First of all, I want to start off by saying yes, I am very harsh on Holtby, and I will always be harsh on Holtby. When it comes to Caps goalies, I always treat them the hardest out of any on the team. These guys are like brothers to me, and until Holtby is damn near perfect, I will continue to expect better from him like any older brother would. And until he reaches the absolute best he can, which I truly believe could possibly be a Vezina Trophy, I will never be like a proud Papa to him. Before this section gets anymore bizarre, I do think, and always will think, Holtby can be better. His first goal came right off the draw through a bit of a screen, but I feel like this isn't the first time Holtby has let one go right off the draw. I don't know if he's just not ready for it, or if it's just been the perfect shot behind a screen, but it may be something Mitch Korn would consider working on. His second goal was also soft, glancing right up his shoulder, and then he kicked it in. The great thing about Holtby is that he is always hard on himself for stuff like that, and I'm fully confident he will work his hardest to make sure stuff like that never happens again.

Barry Trotz - For the love of God, take Beagle off the top line.

Everyone Else - Everyone else that is not Marcus Johansson, Jay Beagle, Karl Alzner, Braden Holtby or Barry Trotz, because they all played well and I can't put them in the negative section, and that negatively affects my recap. Except, you all could try to play a full 60 minutes of hockey, it would make some of our lives a little less stressful.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Nate Schmidt - 70% (38% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 63% (100% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 62% (29% offensive zone start)
  • Mike Green - 58% (44% offensive zone start)
  • Troy Brouwer - 57% (100% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Jason Chimera - 25% (40% offensive zone start)
  • Brooks Orpik - 27% (50% offensive zone start)
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 28% (46% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 30% (46% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 30% (56% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through 15 games.

Via War-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - Marcus Johansson (7)
- Assists - Troy Brouwer (5), Andre Burakovsky (8)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (PP) (7)
- Assists - Mike Green (8), Nicklas Backstroke (11)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (8)
- Assists - Jay Beagle (1), Nicklas Backstrom (12)

Goal - Marcus Johansson (8)
- Assists - Andre Burakovsky (9), Nate Schmidt (1)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 24 saves on 26 shots, .923 save percentage

Quote of the Night



"It's helped out a lot. Usually when you get back, especially with a weird preseason with getting injured and only getting one game in, so when you get in, you know it's nice to get some minutes and get rolling and kind of get into a groove. And also, you know, for coach to show confidence in putting me in big situations and big minutes, it's huge for your confidence. And I don't take that lightly. I go out and try to give it everything I have because of that." - Jay Beagle, on being the first line right wing.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals vs. Canucks (4-2 Capitals Loss)

At the tail end of their trek across Canada, the Caps ran into a Vancouver team that had been waiting for their arrival for two days. After a sloppy first, they found themselves very much alive. But that quickly evaporated within just 107 seconds.


Positives

Peters in the First - Justin Peters was nothing short of excellent in the first period. He had several fantastic stops, most notably on a John Carlson giveaway, where Peters found himself sprawling across the ice to make the save. By the end of the period, Peters had seen 14 shots come flying his way, and he was able to block every one of them. Without his efforts, and the complete lack of effort from the Caps in the first, this game could have been out of hand very quickly.

Justin Peters
O'Brien's Perfect Timing - I thought that Liam O'Brien had a very solid game. He's obviously not a guy that you are consistently going to notice when he's out on the ice. He's not a fantastic puck handler, he doesn't have great vision. But what separates a good fourth liner from a great fourth liner is timely plays, and O'Brien did just that tonight. When the Caps saw themselves down 3-1, they needed a quick shot of momentum, and O'Brien delivered that off of his deflection that went past Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller. Oh, and that was O'Brien's first ever NHL goal. Pretty cool.

Ovechkin's Two Way Play - We are slowly, but surely, seeing a new form of Alexander Ovechkin blooming before our very eyes. He has completely begun to transform his game. We are seeing a more defensively responsible Ovechkin. In yesterday's game, we saw it when he laid down and blocked the shot. Today, we saw him dive across the ice to poke check a crucial puck away, and he crashed into the boards. There is cause for concern that Ovechkin only has seven shots in his last four games. But there is absolutely no reason to believe that he simply will just stop scoring again. Although, Ovechkin is taking the right path towards success. You know who also cut back offensively late into his career and focused on becoming a more two-way forward? Steve Yzerman. And he won three Cups.

Negatives

Everyone Besides Peters in the First Period - Such a sloppy period. Carlson turned it over in his own zone, Evgeny Kuznetsov turned it over in his own zone. Virtually every blue liner failed to clear the puck out of their zone when they should have. No Capital seriously challenged Miller with any sort of scoring chance. It was just bad to watch. This team really needs to just learn to really pour it on in the first period. And they have done that a couple times this season. This may have just been a case of being in the tail end of a back to back game after a lot of traveling. I expect to see a different start to the game on Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Peters In The Second - The first goal he let in on the power play was truly unfortunate. The puck took a few unlucky bounces and landed on Henrik Sedin's stick. Peters tried to slide over, and he actually got a good chunk of the puck, but it just wasn't enough. The problem I had was the fact that he just deflated, giving up two relatively soft goals just a little over a minute later. That just can't happen. It's one thing to let up one goal, maybe another that quickly. But three just completely kills the momentum, and that clearly happened tonight. Now, I'm not blaming all of the goals solely on Peters, in fact, I almost never blame any single goal solely on a goaltender, but he just had to have a couple of those tonight.

John Carlson - I just was not happy with his play tonight. I feel like this is the third season in a row that Carlson has just had a slow start to his season. It just seems like he needs to play a good chunk of games to really get back at his playing level. We all know he has the skill set to be this teams top defenseman, but playing as poorly as he did today just won't cut it. I've already mentioned that turnover like a bajillion times, but it wasn't just that. He was out of position, had trouble clearing it, and then the dagger of a delay of game penalty at the end. Just not his night.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi-Close Percentage at Even Strength
  • Joel Ward - 77% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 77% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Michael Latta - 67% (60% offensive zone start)
  • Nate Schmidt - 61% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 58% (64% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi-Close Percentage at Even Strength
  • Jay Beagle - 27% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 31% (50% offensive zone start)
  • Matt Niskanen - 37% (82% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 41% (62% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 42% (75% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through eight games.

Via Wa-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - Marcus Johansson (3)
- Assists - Andre Burakovsky (5), Mike Green (4)

Goal - Liam O'Brien (1)
- Assists - Mike Green (5)

Goaltending

Justin Peters - 30 saves on 33 shots, .909 save perc,entage

Quote of the Night

"We haven't given up, I don't think, more than 28 shots this year. And they had 34 today. So to me that's an indication that we weren't managing the puck. We talked about it, but we weren't sharp. That was our first test at back to back. I don't want to take anything away from Vancouver. They played a pretty solid game in a lot of areas. They forced us to have to play a certain way, and we didn't want to do it, and we turned pucks over. You know, we're worried about our Corsi scores, I guess. But it doesn't work sometimes. We sometimes got to get it to the next level." - Barry Trotz

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals Vs. Flames (3-1 Capitals Win)

The Capitals continued their Canadian journey, heading to Calgary for a late night game. Ok, fine. It wasn't late for them. But it was pretty damn late for us. Anyways, they walked away with a big win, and looked relatively dominate in all aspects of the game.



Positives

Brooks Orpik - That guy had ten hits tonight! Ten. And they weren't love taps. Every hit he took was absolutely earth shattering. He would even have sequences where he would just run right through guys. I don't think Orpik can maintain that physicality every game...in fact, I know he can't. It looked very similar to his season opener, and this is the first extremely physical game I can think of since then. But, the games where he does bring it are games he gives the Caps the best chance to win. He was a force out there.

Joel Ward - Joel Ward clearly got the message with his demotion to fourth line duties, scoring two goals. He looked much better than he had in his previous few games, even if you take away the goals. In fact, the whole fourth line, Liam O'Brien and Michael Latta, looked pretty good tonight. Latta had played fantastic along the boards, and made a tough pass on Ward's second goal. I can't imagine we see Ward playing on the fourth line for much longer, especially if he continues to play that well.

Holtby and the Entire Defense - Seriously, good for every one of them, especially Holtby. I don't know if it was just me, and whether I thought this because it was a late game, but man, that game was boring. I can sit and watch any game and find some form of entertainment, but that one was just dull. Holtby never really saw any serious scoring chances, minus the one that went in. Dennis Wideman was credited with the Flames lone goal on the power play. It looked to me that it got deflected, or at the very least curved down. Holtby got a piece of it, but it was a difficult save to make. But seriously, kudos to those guys for staying alive for this one. We know they have had trouble in the past getting excited for certain games, so to see them play well tonight was satisfying.

Negatives

Honestly, None - I could probably think of something, but I'm just too tired. But they all played quite well tonight.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Mike Green - 66% (71% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 65% (40% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 62% (53% offensive zone start)
  • Nate Schmidt - 61% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Eric Fehr - 56% (42% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Brooks Orpik - 37% (22% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 43% (25% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 47% (20% offensive zone start)
  • Matt Niskanen, Joel Ward, Marcus Johansson - All with 50% (Niskanen - 62% offensive zone start), (Ward - 38% offensive zone start), (Johansson - 83% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through seven games.

Via War-On-Ice


Scoring

Goal - Joel Ward (PP) (3)

Goal - Joel Ward (4)
- Assists - Michael Latta (1), Brooks Orpik (3)

Goal - Nicklas Backstrom (2)
- Assists - Karl Alzner (2), Matt Niskanen (3)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 20 saves on 21 shots, .952 save percentage

Quote of the Night


"We are very committed in all areas of the ice. We know exactly what's going on. We are very prepared, and we are being held accountable. We know there is a ton of work left to do, but we are showing signs of being a very good hockey team. We just got to keep pushing forward." - Braden Holtby, on how Barry Trotz has changed this team.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals Vs. Oilers (3-2 Capitals Loss)

The Capitals headed into their Canadian road trip as the only Eastern Conference team without a regulation loss. They were facing off against Edmonton, who had just gotten its first win in just the previous game. Stellar goaltending from Ben Scrivens earned them another one over the Capitals.




Positives

Mike Green - Once again, I thought Mike Green played a spectacular game. I think Barry Trotz's main goal with Green this season was to get him right back on track to his offensive ways, something he had gotten away from in the past few seasons. Green doesn't have the defensive pressure that he's had in the past few seasons, due mainly to the additions of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. In fact, he's got the second lowest total on ice competition percentage on the team, meaning he's not getting that much time against the oppositions top lines. That's perfect, as Green has always dominated possession and generates shots. His goal tonight gives him three total in five games, and Green is fifth in the league with six points.

Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson On the Power Play - I could probably include something from the power play as a positive for every single game, but tonight the positives were from Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. I mean, these two might just be the second and third most deadly power play players in the league, behind only Ovechkin. Johansson can just have a field day behind the net. He just has so many options. He can stuff attempt it himself, he can feed whoever is sitting in the slot, or he can dish it back to Backstrom. Backstrom has even more options. He can take it himself, feed it back to Johansson, feed it to whoever is in the slot, slide it over to John Carlson, or, if the defense is really caught sleeping, fire it over to Ovechkin. But what he does, and I love this, is he calmly holds the puck and inches towards the net. It freaks the defense out. It is widely known that this is the best power play unit in the league, and if nothing is happening, panic begins to set in. And Backstrom is just calm as can be.

Overall Defense - The defense played pretty well tonight. I mean, they held Edmonton to just 20 shots on goal. Considering last year they averaged 33.5 shots against, that's pretty excellent. And that's the sixth time this year they've held their opponents under 30 shots....which just so happens to be every game this season. That is extremely refreshing.

Negatives

Dumb Luck - I mean, that's seriously what this was. The Capitals fired away at Scrivens and the Oilers, but they just simply couldn't score tonight. If you are leading your opponent 34 to 20 in shots on goal, you should win the game, like, 99 percent of the time. But they were just unlucky tonight. In fact, the Caps PDO tonight was .909, while the Oilers was 1.09. Not going to win many games if there is that drastic of a difference.

Alex Ovechkin - Is he playing poorly this season? Absolutely not. Did he play poorly tonight? Yeah, it wasn't his best game. It was Ovechkin who fanned on the shot immediately after Green's goal, which allowed Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to coast his way to the net, ultimately leading to the Oilers second goal. But, that wasn't my only issue with Ovechkin. He had just two shots on goal tonight, as many as Nate Schmidt. Ovechkin just needs to fire away at all times. He is bound to score if he's ripping five, six, seven, eight shots a game. This was just a fluky game for him, although it is a bit concerning that this is his second consecutive game with just two shots on net.

Braden Holtby - It wasn't one of his better games, which is disappointing considering his parents were in the stands. I'll give him the first goal. That was a great setup pass for the Justin Schultz goal, who basically had a layup to give the Oilers the early 1-0 lead. The second goal was questionable. He had a clear path of vision on the Nugent-Hopkins shot, but just straight up missed it. I'm willing to bet he'd love that one back. And the power play goal was pretty difficult as well. He was screened heavily in front of the net, and Nikita Nikitin shot the puck on edge. It looked like it dipped, curved or deflected off of Carlson. So two out of three were understandable. But I have such high expectations for Holtby this year that it has just become expected for me to think he will be perfect, which isn't fair, but I don't care.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)


Top Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 80% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Troy Brouwer - 78% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 76% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Michael Latta - 75% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Marcus Johansson - 73% (60% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Jason Chimera - 50% (29% offensive zone start)
  • Joel Ward - 54% (25% offensive zone start)
  • Eric Fehr - 57% (17% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 58% (67% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 61% (29% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through six games.

Image Via War-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - John Carlson (PP) (1)
- Assists- Nicklas Backstrom (5, and his 500th career point), Marcus Johansson (1)

Goal - Mike Green (3)
- Assists - Andre Burakovsky (4)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 17 saves on 20 shots, .850 save percentage

Quote of the Night


"The second goal has no business going in. That's the difference in the game. It's just a shot that shouldn't go in. You know, your job as a goalie is to make them beat you with a good shot. I opened up. I misread the shot. Puck goes through me, through my seven hole, and you can't get beat there. It's a play I need to make up for, when we turn the puck over. My job is to make up with that, and I didn't." - Braden Holtby, talking about the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal.