The Capitals faceoff winning percentage is off to an excellent start this season. The players leading the team are no surprise, but there have been a few interesting surprises (good and bad) through the first five games of the season.
Last season NoVa Caps conducted a season-long, five-part series of articles that tracked and measured the Capitals faceoff success throughout the season. The team had lost a number of key players with significant faceoff skills during the summer of 2014, so the question was, how would the Capitals respond? You can find all of last seasons faceoff analysis right here:
A BENCHMARK FOR FACEOFFS – THE 2014-2015 SEASON
In order to make any kind of scientific measurement, you need a “benchmark” – a baseline or starting point if you will. For this analysis, we’ve used the 2014-2015 season as our benchmark. The Capitals finished 12th in the league for the 2014-2015 season with a 51.2 winning percentage.
The Capitals would “backfill” the loss of faceoff talent, primarily with the arrival of TJ Oshie and Justin Williams – a significant shortfall, statistically at least.
The Capitals finished 19th in the league last season in faceoff winning percentages at 49.6 percent. This was a decent drop-off from the previous season (2014-2015), and likely due to the loss of key players such as Eric Fehr, Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer.
(2015-2016 faceoff stats)
However, combating the weaker faceoff prowess was the fact that the team had a banner year, finishing the season with a franchise-record 120 points, and another President’s Trophy for the mantle. So, finishing in the bottom third of the league in faceoffs is not necessarily a death-blow to a team’s chances for winning.
2016-2017 SEASON (AFTER FIVE GAMES)
When you glance at the stats from the 2014-2015 season, it readily apparent the Capitals have lost a number of their top ten players from that season. Gone are Brouwer, Chimera, Fehr, Latta and Ward. Half of the top ten players in faceoffs. The lost players also roughly represent half of the faceoffs taken in the 2014-2015 season. The Capitals would add Lars Eller to the faceoff mix during the summer of 2016.
Through the first five games this season (6% of the regular season), the Capitals have shown a bit of an uptick, and are currently ranked 7th in the league in faceoff winning percentage.
PLAYER STATS FOR 2016-2017 (FIVE GAMES)
The team’s stalwart’s (Beagle and Backstrom) are off to typical starts, however, Evgeny Kuznetsov has yet to find his faceoff game. Kuznetsov finished the 2015-2016 season with a faceoff winning percentage of 47.8%,
With the additional loss of Jason Chimera during the offseason, it will be interesting to see if Lars Eller, Zach Sanford and/or Brett Connolly can step up and fill the void.
NoVa Caps will continue to track the Capitals faceoff success throughout the 2016-2017 season. Will the team continue to slide down the rankings, or is the excellent start to the season a sign of drastic improvements to the team? We’ll find out.
2015-2016 season analysis here:
By Jon Sorensen