Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
With just under a quarter of the 2019-20 NHL season in the books, the Washington Capitals lead the NHL in wins (13), goals (73), goals per game (4.06) and shooting percentage (13.1%) while ranking 18th in shots-per-game (31) and 16th in shots against (31.1%). NoVa Caps takes a look at the Capitals’ shooting success early this season.
The Capitals currently have 11 players with shooting percentages above 10% this season, including three at or above 25% (forward T.J. Oshie, 26.7%; center Nic Dowd, 25%; and defenseman Michal Kempny, 25%). All three are in the league’s top-10 for shooting percentage. The highest shot-per-game average of the three is Oshie, at only 1.67.
Six players are currently on pace to score at least 30 goals (captain Alex Ovechkin, forwards Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and T.J. Oshie; and defenseman John Carlson), while nine are on pace to eclipse the 50-point mark.
The Capitals have 364 scoring chances, which ranks ninth, this season at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stattrick. The Capitals’ 45.83% high-danger goals-for percentage is 21st in the league even though their 22 high-danger goals-scored is 10th-best.
The Capitals’ shots on goal include 11 deflections (tied for eighth), 89 slapshots (fifth), 74 snapshots (12th), 32 tipped shots (tied for 11th), and five wraparound (tied for 11th) but only 43 backhand shots (tied for 13th) and 310 wristers (18th). They are tied for the league-lead with eight backhand goals and lead in 12 slapshot goals, are tied for third with 11 snapshot goals, and are tied for fourth with 36 wrist shot goals but have no deflection goals and are tied for 15th with only five tipped tallies. Only one of the Capitals’ goals have come via the wraparound, but that is tied for third-best.
A big reason the Capitals are only 18th in shots-per-game is that their 242 missed shots are the third-most in the NHL and have hit the post a league-high 18 times.
Their 51.72 shot attempts percentage when ahead is 19th in the league and their 52.94 percentage when behind is 18th. Their 51.55 shot attempts percentage when the game is close is 11th. When the score is tied, their 54.07 shot attempt percentage ranks sixth.
Like previous years, the Capitals’ approach to the season has been “quality over quantity” as shown by their shooting statistics, and it’s also translating to wins as the Capitals stand atop the NHL with 29 points after 18 games.
By Harrison Brown