Tale of the Tape: A Statistical Comparison Between This Season and Last Season

The Capitals are 53 games into their 2018-2019 campaign. We decided to take a quick look at the teams current basic stats and compare them to last season (after 53 games) and provide a brief analysis. A number of the comparisons were somewhat surprising. Let’s take a look: 

Preface
First and foremost, any statistical comparisons between 53 games from this season and 53 games from last season are for general reference, and lack some context (what was the strength of schedule for those 53 games last season compared to this season? what was the number of home and away games? what was the number of back-to-backs? injuries?, etc.). The variables are extensive.

In addition, matching or besting last season’s statistics in no way means the Capitals will definitely repeat. On the flip side, if the Capitals don’t equal statistical categories from last season’s doesn’t not mean they can’t repeat.

The comparison does however provide a general glimpse at how things are going so far this season in reference to the same point as last season.

General Stats

 

Record
The Capitals were 31-17-5 (67 points) and had the league’s 7th best record after 53 games last season. This season the Capitals are 29-18-6 (64 points) with the league’s 11th best record. That’s a -3 points differential. For additional context, the Islanders are +8, the Blue Jackets are +3 and the Penguins are -1 in points differentials from this season to last season.

Goals
The Capitals scored 162 goals (ranked 10th) and gave up 153 goals (ranked 18th) for a +9 goal differential after 53 games last season. So far this season, the Capitals have scored 175 goals (ranked 7th) and gave up 167 goals (ranked 20th) for a goal differential of +6.

Shots
The Capitals won the Stanley Cup last season while generating the least amount of shots per game, something that has never been done before. After 53 games last season they averaged 28.8 shots per game (31st) and gave up 32.3 shots per game (10th most). The were tied with the Islanders for league’s best 5-on-5 shooting percentage at 9.3%.

After 53 games this season the Capitals are generating 30.1 shots per game (22nd most) and yielding 32.4 shots per game (10th most). The Capitals are second in the league (behind the Maple Leafs) with a shooting percentage of 10.0%. So the Capitals are shooting more this season, and are more accurate with those shots.

PDO
After 53 games last season, the Capitals had a PDO (S%+Sv%) of 1021 (ranked 3rd in the league). After 53 games this season the Capitals have the league’s third highest PDO at 1020, behind Toronto (1032) and the Islanders (1029).

Summary

Goaltending
After 53 games last season, the Capitals goaltenders were 12th in the league in 5-on-5 save percentage at .928 percent. The Capitals are currently 14th in the league in 5-on-5 save percentage at .919 percent. Pheonix Copley has been a big reason the Capitals are essentially in the same position as last season.

Special Teams
After 53 games last season, the Capitals were 20.7% on the power play (ranked 12th) and 79.0% on the penalty kill (22nd in the league). After 53 games this season, the Capitals are 21.3% on the power play (ranked 12th) and 78.1% on the penalty kill (ranked 24th). These stats are nearly the same, and also a push.

Faceoffs
The comparison to this point, for the most part, has shown very similar stats in most categories. Then we come to faceoffs. The Capitals are dead last in this category after 53 games this season, winning just 46.1% of faceoffs. After 53 games last season the Capitals had won 50.5% of all faceoffs, ranked 14th in the league. The departure of Jay Beagle and the decline of Evgeny Kuznetsov at the dot are the primary reasons here. The debate over the value of winning faceoffs has gone on for ages. More on that here.

Penalties
The Capitals were called for 3.54 minor penalties per game after 53 games last season, ranking them 11th in the league. After 53 games this season, the Capitals have been called for the most minor penalties per 60 minutes, but that is somewhat misleading, as they average 3.58 minor penalties a game. That’s just a .04 increase from last season.

Conclusion
As you can see, most of the statistical categories are pretty similar to last seasons values. It’s certainly too early for the call of heads, or taking to the streets for torch-wielding protests. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Think of it this way, the eventual Stanley Cup winner still has more than four months of hockey left.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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9 Responses to Tale of the Tape: A Statistical Comparison Between This Season and Last Season

  1. CMB says:

    Hope they get some faceoff help, I wanted Caps to go after Boyle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Diane Doyle says:

      Getting Boyle would have been interesting. How often does there exist a guy whose name rhymes with mine? Seriously, while he’s good at faceoffs, there is the problem that he’s getting older (a few months older than Ovi but would have fallen into his grade in school — at least by Virginia’s rules)

      Like

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  3. Diane Doyle says:

    Play it again, Sam!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Math is Hard... says:

    175 goals for minus 167 goals against equals a differential of +8, not +6

    Like

    • Joe Knepley says:

      Also, according to nhl.com, after 53 games the Caps have 178 goals for and 168 goals against for a a differential of +10. It is not too hard to check your facts if you care even a little bit. No more NoVA Caps Fans for me…

      Like

  5. J says:

    Last in FACEOFFS. 14th last year, thats huge difference. 5% may not seen like a lot but you look at the numbers in detail and Backy&Eller are both at 49% then it drops off big time, you have Kuzy at like 36% and couple others low 40s. Just shows how bad they need a beagle type Faceoff god, pk shutdown, defensive Center who you send out late draws, dzone draws.

    Like

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