The Capitals are 2-2-1 through the first five games of the season. For comparison, they were 3-1-1 last year, a fairly similar start. So, how are the Capitals shooting the puck through the first five games of the season? Let’s take a quick look.
First and foremost, our usual caveat at this point in the season. Five games is a small sample size for any kind of substantive, detailed analysis. The primary intent of this post is to simply highlight early shot trends by the Capitals, and to set a benchmark for future shot reviews. With that said, let’s take a look at the numbers.
The Capitals finished dead-last in shots per game average last season, and won the Stanley Cup. More on just how rare that is here. The Capitals finished the regular season averaging 29.0 shots per game. They were pretty much in the basement the entire season, and won the Metropolitan Division.
After 5 games this season, the Capitals are averaging 30.o shots per game, good enough for 22nd in the league.
There are a few notable variances in the player shot statistics when comparing this season and last. Here are the full stats sheets for last season and this season after 5 games.
Last Season Shot Stats (After 5 Games) Record: 3-1-1
This Season’s Shot Stats (After 5 Games) Record: 2-2-1
Maybe the most notable variance between the two seasons is the shot differential for Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Last season, Kuznetsov fired just 5 shots in 5 games. This season Kuznetsov has shot 17 times in 5 games, a +12 increase from last season (+240%).
A tangential note is the number of shots Alex Ovechkin took last season, compared to this season, a -10 differential. (Ovechkin started last season on fire). Again, a small, varied sample size (teams faced, home, away, line combos, etc.), but not an outlandish leap to assert there is a notable push for a more balanced top line.
Andre Burakovaky has had an extremely quiet start to the season. He is currently tied with Chandler Stephenson for fewest shots by Capitals players that have appeared in all five games. In fact, Brooks Orpik (6) has twice as many shots as Andre Burakovsky (3) so far this season.
John Carlson’s shot production is down from 15 last season to 9 shots this season, even though his TOI is relatively the same.
Devante Smith-Pelly has more than doubled his shot production this season, even though he has played 3 minutes less per game on average.
Jakub Vrana is up 5 shots this season, but has also played an additional minute per game, all good signs for number 13. The scoring will come,
As we previously mentioned, it’s early. The goal was to set a baseline for follow-up evaluations, and to shed light on a few potential early trends. There is plenty of hockey remaining in the regular season.
By Jon Sorensen