Photo: NHL/Getty Images
We conclude our assessment of the first nine games (10%) of the season with a look at shot and scoring chance location maps for each of the games. The following provides a brief description of the game conditions as well as a map for the game. (Note: Other pieces of our 9-game assessment are linked at the bottom of this article.)
Game 1: Capitals at Senators (10/5) – Won 5-4 (SO)
This game was fairly even, statistically as well as on the scoreboard, as the Capitals would end up with the extra point via the shootout. Ottawa found the middle of the ice for most chances, while the Capitals chances were much more dispersed. Game analysis here.
Game 2: Canadiens at Capitals (10/7) Won 6-1
Both teams found the slot with some regularity, however it was Washington who would convert it to value on the scoreboard. Carey Price was beat early and often, with a couple of questionable misses on his part. The Caps did well with scoring chances, however, the Canadiens poor start to this season “waters down” this victory somewhat. Game analysis here.
Game 3: Capitals at Lightning (10/9) Lost 4-3 (OT)
Shots and scoring chances for game 3 of the season jump out at you in the graphic below, and provide a fairly decent representation of the Capitals play over the first 9 games. Tampa found the front of the net quite a bit in this one, while the Caps chances were much less prevalent and more widely dispersed. Phillip Grubauer earned the point for the Capitals in this one. Game analysis here.
Game 4: Penguins at Capitals (10/11) Lost 3-2
The Tampa game and the Pittsburgh game are fairly similar, and a good representation of what the Capitals have been dealing with in the early going this season. Pittsburgh camped out in front of the net while the Caps were kept at bay. The Penguins did a good job of using speed to setup their short game. Game analysis here.
Game 5: Capitals at Devils (10/13) Won 5-2
Washington would flip the script in this one, as the Capitals would hand the upstart Devils their first loss of the season and one of only two losses so far this season for New Jersey. The Capitals responded well to the previous two games, and found the slot with fairly decent success. Game analysis here.
Game 6: Capitals at Flyers (10/14) lost 8-2
Flyers would win the battle to the net in this one, and the scoreboard would reflect that. It’s interesting to note that there wasn’t much “in between” for the Flyers, as most chances came low or from just inside the blue line,and not much action in the middle third of their offensive zone. Game analysis here.
Game 7: Maple Leafs at Capitals (10/17) Lost 2-0
Similar to the Flyers game, the Maple Leafs shots and chances came from the doorstep or from the wide reaches of the perimeter. Another good game by Braden Holtby kept this game close. Game analysis here.
Game 8: Capitals at Red Wings (10/20) Won 4-3 (OT)
The Capitals did a good job of dispersing the Red Wings chances while finding some success in getting to the high chance areas themselves. This win should also come with some restraint, as the Red Wings are also struggling a bit out of the gate, and have a negative goal differential after 10 games. Game analysis here.
Game 9: Panthers at Capitals (10/21) Lost 4-1
This game was won by the Capitals (statistically), but not where it counts. The Capitals out attempted Florida 75-47, and 21-4 while 5v5 in the 3rd period (somewhat score related). For the second consecutive game, the Capitals showed a noticeable improvement with regards to shots and chances. It will be interesting to see if this continues with some consistence. Game analysis here.
Analysis and Conclusions:
The early going has been a mixed bag for the Caps, with regards to shot and scoring chance locations, but no real surprises in the “big picture” sense.
On the back-end, it was expected to see shot and chance charts like those we see for the first nine games (above), as the Capitals install new components to the blue line. Expect this to continue as the kids learn the ropes and the Caps deal with injuries. Look for improvement by the holidays.
On the offensive side, the Capitals have struggled to consistently find the front of the net during the Trotz administration. Look for inconsistency to continue for the immediate games as the Capitals continue transitioning from the identify of last year’s team to new identify of this year’s team. The Caps showed vast improvement in shots and chances in the last two games, so it will be interesting to see if they have figured some things out, and continue the upward trend.
By Jon Sorensen
Related Reading for 9-Game Review and Analysis:
Review of Shots, Corsi, Faceoffs and Special Teams after 9 Games
The Great 8 Out of the Gate: Looking at Alex Ovechkin’s Start through the First 9 Games
General Progress Report: A Look at the Capitals First 9 Games
Washington Capitals Injury Report