Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
It’s finally here, the start of the 2017-18 season. It’s the moment hockey fans in D.C. and Capitals fans everywhere have been waiting for since early May.
During the season, fans will read all kinds of pregame articles and reports. However, what many articles sometimes fail to show us are the “deeper” numbers and stats pertinent to the game. That’s why we’re here today. What we’re intending to show you are some of the notable numbers (statistics) one may want to remember during the game. So let’s get started on the preview for the season opener.
This season gets underway north of the border in Canada’s capital versus the Senators. Last season, the Senators were a tough team for the Capitals. While they did end the season with a winning record against the Sens (2-1-0), it was never an easy game. In the three games between these two teams, there were only seven goals total, three for the Caps, four for Ottawa.
Here’s some of the Capitals’ basic stats vs Ottawa last season.
Not much to note. Only two current Capitals scored on Ottawa last season. The other man to score on the Sens now plays up in Montreal, defenseman Karl Alzner. Three goals, two scored by unlikely defensemen. No goals or points from the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, or John Carlson.
Just because some of these players didn’t have much success against the Senators last season doesn’t mean they haven’t in their careers.
Ovechkin is a point per game player in his career versus Ottawa and has chipped in with a bunch of goals. We’ll see if he can get back to that this season.
The possession game wasn’t very easy for Washington either. Last season the Capitals finished as the fourth-best team in Corsi or Shot Attempts percentage at 51.81. Looking back it makes sense, as the Capitals were 50% or better against 20 of the 29 teams they played. Ottawa was one of just nine teams the Capitals were below 50% against, officially finishing at 48.25.
One can see a couple of players had a nice Corsi percentage versus the Senators last season, but the majority had a middling number or a bad number. That kind of stands out when one looks at Ottawa’s numbers vs the Capitals.
Plenty of good numbers there for the Sens.
Of course, those numbers didn’t exactly equal a ton of goals either, as mentioned earlier they scored just four goals in the three games against Washington.
To help the scoring woes, the Capitals are one of those teams that rely on their power play. That didn’t help against Ottawa either. The Caps had ten power play opportunities and failed to score on the man-advantage. The Senators were one of the five teams the Capitals failed to score against while on the power play last season. Of those five teams, Washington had the most opportunities against Ottawa.
The other side of special teams did, however, do their job killing off 10 of 11 penalties.
Last season, the Capitals were an average faceoff team with a 49.8 faceoff percentage. Last season versus Ottawa, the Caps struggled at the dot, winning 45.6% of the draws. The leaders among centers for Washington were Kuznetsov at 52.9% and Jay Beagle at 51.3%. The players that struggled were Backstrom, who won just 42.5% of the draws he took, and Lars Eller at 40%.
It looks like the Capitals might get a break early on this season. Arguably, the best defenseman in hockey, Erik Karlsson, had offseason foot surgery and MAY not be ready to go for the season opener.
Second-line center Derick Brassard, who also had offseason surgery (shoulder surgery) looks to be ready to go.
It’s game number one of 82. The long road begins, enjoy!
By CJ Witt