Friday night in Raleigh was just another preseason game with not much positive to mention for the Capitals. That’s pretty much been the norm for the Caps this preseason. A team that looks like they’re playing games because they have to. No one is really playing at a high level and no star is really standing out.
I’ll say it over and over until I’m blue in the face, but it’s just the preseason. Still, you want to see something from this team that tells you they’re ready for the season. You didn’t see much in the way of positives tonight on the ice and the stats don’t tell us much positive either.
Tonight the official shots on goal ended up 31-19 in favor of the Hurricanes. Shot attempts in all situations ended up 55-40, also in the Canes favor. Even that number is a little skewed because the Capitals out attempted Carolina 8-1 in the final three or four minutes of the game. Shot attempts while 5v5 ended up 41-33, also for Carolina.
While 5v5, the Caps finished the game with a 44.59% Corsi.
As we can see in the table above there were only three Capitals’ who were on the plus side of the Corsi plus/minus. I suppose the good news about that was two of the three were the defensive pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen. Brett Connolly was the only other Cap in the positive while Nathan Walker, Chandler Stephenson and Devante Smith-Pelly were all even or at 50%.
Jakub Vrana, who had several good scoring chances tonight, was a respectable minus-2 and roster spot contender Madison Bowey was minus-3 in well over 21 minutes of ice time.
One of Coach Barry Trotz’ complaints this preseason has been how the stars or roster-regulars have played. Nicklas Backstrom was alright on the ice tonight, but was still under 40% Corsi, and Andre Burakovsky, Backstrom’s assumed linemate, was also minus-5 and 40% Corsi against the Hurricanes.
Players fighting for bottompairing defense duties did not have great nights possession-wise, Christian Djoos putting up a minus-7 and Taylor Chorney minus-10. There really hasn’t been one player that has grabbed the spotlight and undeniably taken a roster spot on defense and the game against Carolina didn’t change anything.
I have to be honest, the faceoff stat was puzzling tonight. The final stats page says the Capitals won the faceoff battle 58%-42%. Yet, the math says 56%-42%. Even the official faceoff summary page for tonight’s game says 56-42. So somewhere two percent of the faceoffs were lost.
Only three Capitals really took faceoffs tonight – Lars Eller, Backstrom, and Jay Beagle. Eller was great, winning 80% of the faceoffs he took, Backstrom was pretty good, winning 6-9, and Beagle took the most faceoffs, but won just 47%.
Seven other Capitals took draws tonight but no one took more than two. Stephenson was 1-2, Tyler Graovac was 0-2, Connolly, Wilson and Walker were all 0-1, Alex Chiasson and Burakovsky were 1-1.
I don’t know if it’s possible, but the Capitals are going to have to flip the switch here very quickly if they want to be ready for the regular season opener on Thursday vs Ottawa. I know it’s just preseason, but there are teams and players that give you a lot more confidence that they are ready to go when the season starts.
Still one game to go in the preseason. I won’t be doing a stats post game piece on Sunday against the Blues, so next time we reconvene it will be for the first time in the regular season.
With that being said, enjoy the final preseason game and see you Thursday night.
By CJ Witt