A Look At The Capitals’ Defensemen’s Stats Through Four Games

Photo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images

After allowing an average of 3.44 goals-per-game in the final 32 games of the 2019-20 regular season and signing four defensemen in the offseason, the Washington Capitals have allowed at least three goals in three of their four games so far this season (and an average of 3.25 goals-against per game overall, tied for the 10th-most in the NHL). It is early but perhaps it is time to make some changes ahead of this weekend’s series vs. the Buffalo Sabres as the Capitals have eight defensemen on the NHL roster. NoVa Caps evaluates the Capitals’ defensemen through four games.

Dmitry Orlov — John Carlson

In 59:51 minutes together at five-on-five, the two have combined for a 47.78% Corsi-for percentage, a 35.23% expected goals-for percentage, and a 38.46% scoring-chances for percentage.

Carlson has recorded one goal, three points, a -3 rating (second-worst on the Capitals), a 49.09% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 40.48% five-on-five expected-goals for percentage, and a 38% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage, while averaging 23:33 per game, including 1:45 on the power-play and 2:46 on the penalty kill. The 31-year-old has tallied an average of 4.45 hits-per-game, 1.91 blocked shots per game, 1.91 giveaways-per-60 minutes, and 0.63 takeaways-per-60 minutes.

Orlov has posted no points, a team-low -4 rating, a team-low 45.1% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 33.19% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 37.21% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage. The 29-year-old has averaged 20:49 worth of ice-time per game this season, including 39 seconds on the power play and 1:26 while shorthanded. Orlov has an average of 4.32 hits-per-game (second-lowest among Capitals’ defensemen) and 4.32 blocked shots per game. He has not been credited with any giveaways or takeaways this season.

Brendan Dillon — Justin Schultz

In 53:33 worth of ice-time together so far this season, Dillon and Schultz have combined for a 51.35% Corsi-for percentage, a 53.68% expected goals-for percentage, and a 57.89% scoring-chances for percentage.

Dillon has been arguably the Capitals’ best defenseman this season as he has recorded one goal, a team-leading +5 rating, a team-best 52.22% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a Capitals-leading 53.59% five-on-five expected-goals for percentage, and a Capitals-high 54.35% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage, while averaging 18:35 per game (fifth), including 2:07 on the penalty kill (fourth). The 30-year-old has racked up an average of 9.68 hits-per-game (most among defensemen), a team-best 6.45 blocked shots per game, no giveaways, and a team-best 2.42 takeaways-per-60 minutes.

Schultz has posted no points, a +4 rating (tied with defenseman Zdeno Chara for second-best on the Capitals), a 46.74% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage (second-worst behind Orlov), a 44.95% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 53.19% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage (second behind Dillon). The 30-year-old has averaged 17:54 worth of ice-time per game this season (lowest among Capitals defensemen), but 1:04 on the power play (second behind Carlson) and 13 seconds while shorthanded. Schultz has recorded an average of 2.51 hits-per-game (lowest among Capitals’ blueliners), 0.83 blocked shots per game (also the worst among defensemen on the team), 0.83 giveaways-per-60, and 0.83 takeaways-per-60 (second behind Dillon).

Zdeno Chara — Nick Jensen

While playing 56:58 together in the first four games, Chara and Jensen have posted a 50.65% Corsi-for percentage, a 52.79% expected goals-for percentage, and a 41.67% scoring-chances for percentage.

Chara has recorded no points, a +4 rating (second-best behind Dillon), a 51.04% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage (second behind Dillon), a 52.53% five-on-five expected-goals for percentage, and a 46.34% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage, while averaging 19:39 per game, including a team-high 3:20 on the penalty kill. The 43-year-old has tallied an average of 6.10 hits-per-game (third-best among Capitals’ defensemen), 3.05 blocked shots per game, 2.29 giveaways-per-60 minutes (second-most), and 0.76 takeaways-per-60 minutes.

Jensen, 30, has posted one assist, a +2 rating, a 49.4% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 52.53% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage (second among Capitals defensemen), and 45.45% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage. Jensen has averaged 18:51 worth of ice-time per game this season, including 2:56 while shorthanded (second behind Chara). He has an average of 6.36 hits-per-game (second among Capitals’ defensemen), 3.18 blocked shots per game, a team-high 2.38 giveaways-per-60 minutes, and 0.79 takeaways-per-60 minutes.

Time To Give Others A Look?

The Capitals have two other defensemen on the roster who have NHL experience in Trevor Van Riemsdyk (364 regular-season games), who shoots right-handed, and Jonas Siegenthaler (90).

Van Riemsdyk, 29, recorded just a goal, eight points, and a -7 rating in 49 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season but earned an impressive 53.22% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 52.12% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 54.51% scoring-chances for percentage while averaging 14:52 worth of ice-time per game this past season, including 1:14 on the NHL’s fourth-best penalty-killing unit. Van Riemsdyk’s 37 blocked shots last season were seventh on the Hurricanes while he also posted 21 hits, 13 takeaways, and 17 giveaways.

Siegenthaler, 23, posted two goals, nine points, a +11 rating, a 50.14% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, and a 51.38% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage in 64 regular-season games last season, when he averaged a team-high 3:11 on the penalty kill and excelled. He also posted 51 hits, 105 blocked shots (second on the Capitals behind Carlson), 13 takeaways, and 32 giveaways.

While inserting one of or both Van Riemsdyk and Siegenthaler might be in the cards, it might be in the best interest of head coach Peter Laviolette and his coaching staff to also break up the pairing of Orlov and Carlson. While the other two pairs have performed well, the Capitals have allowed 13 goals in their first four games so changes are needed. It will be a challenge to get Van Riemsdyk and Siegenthaler a look with the early success of Chara, Jensen, and Schultz so far.

It is clear that the Capitals need to tighten up defensively but keep in mind that it is early in the season, the team is getting used to playing a new system where the defensemen are more aggressive in the offensive zone, and the Capitals have a rookie back-up goaltender in Vitek Vanecek and a first-year starter in Ilya Samsonov in goal. The defensive play will clean up in a manner of time but for a team that has added three new defensemen and two new coaches, patience is needed for this group.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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3 Responses to A Look At The Capitals’ Defensemen’s Stats Through Four Games

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    Changes are definitely being made for next game. Not for the reason we want; i.e. Covid.

    • Anonymous says:

      Vrana-Backstrom-Wilson
      Panik-Eller-Oshie
      Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway
      Sprong-Pinho-Sheary

      Dillon-Carlson
      Siegenthaler-Schultz
      Chara-Jensen

      Vanecek
      Anderson

      Extra: van Riemsdyk, Fehervary, McMichael

  2. Pingback: Friday Caps Clips: Capitals vs. Sabres Game Day

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