After an impressive month of January, the Washington Capitals have started the month of February with a dose of reality, losing their first three games of the month. And while that may leave many of the Caps faithful with a queasy feeling, there just may be a few important positives to glean from the last few games.
Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette told media on Monday following practice that although the outcomes and underlying numbers have not been ideal, he’s liked some of the things he’s seen in the last few games.
“I think that the process is important right now. I think how we play the game and the eye ball test and the numbers and everything that backs up a game, I think that it’s important,” said Laviolette.
“I looked at the last couple of games, and while they’re not perfect, there are things that I see that I like, there are things that we are working on, for me, that are taking positive steps in the right direction. We lost the game last night and yet we won game one (Buffalo) and I liked last night better than I liked game one.”
So, the Capitals have lost the last three games in a row. Where is the improvement? Several of the advanced stats do indeed show a sign of potential improvement: [Click to enlarge].
Areas of Improvement
- The Capitals have led in shot attempts and shots on goal in the last two games (CF, SOG-F).
- The Capitals have led in scoring chances in the last two games (SCF).
- The Capitals have been even or led in high-danger scoring chances for the last three games (HDCF).
- The Capitals led in expected goals for only the third time this season in the last game against the Flyers (XGF%).
So what does this mean? The Capitals are getting better with the possession of the puck, generating time in the offensive zone and generating quality scoring opportunities. The final results may not be ideal, but as advanced stats believers will tell you, “keep it up, the results will come.”
The aforementioned statistical categories have been an issue for the Capitals so far this season, and in fact, have been an issue dating back a number of seasons, including the 2017-18 season. It’s encouraging to see a potential correction possibly occurring.
When you consider the Capitals are just 12 games into a new season, new system, new head coach and the victim of “blender lines” and pairs due to injuries and COVID-19, it’s plausible to think the team is still settling in and finding its way, and that improvement is on the near horizon.
By Jon Sorensen