Welcome to crunch time. We’ve officially flipped the calendar to April and that means the Capitals are set to begin their most challenging month of the 2020-21 regular season. Washington will play 15 games in the next 29 days with many of the games against the top teams in the East Division.
And what better way to begin the big month than a game against the Islanders with first place in the East Division on the line. The Capitals are currently just two points ahead of Barry Trotz and Company, with five of their remaining 22 games against the second-place Islanders.
The Capitals have taken all three games against the Islanders so far this season, most recently a 3-1 win on March 15.
In this post we will take a deeper dive into the season stats for both teams and the head-to-head numbers in preparation for tonight’s game.
SHOTS AND GOALS PER GAME, FACE-OFF WINNING PERCENTAGE
The Islanders hold a slight edge in shots per game as they are averaging nearly two more more shots for than shots against per game. The Capitals are close to even, allowing just one more shot against per game, however they have improved significantly over the last 4-6 weeks in this category.
The Capitals have scored 15 more goals (GF) than the Islanders but have yielded (GA) 19 more goals so far this season. The Islanders are doing better at the dot, winning 51.2% of their face-offs. Advantage: Islanders.
The next graph plots the special teams statistics for the Capitals and Islanders so far this season.
The Capitals have been more efficient in both the power play and penalty kill so far this season. They are currently ninth in the NHL on the power play and 10th in the league on the penalty kill.
The Islanders are currently 20th in the league on the power play and 12th in the league on the penalty kill. Advantage: Capitals.
The next graph plots the total penalties drawn and total penalties taken for both teams so far this season.
The Islanders have drawn three more penalties than they’ve taken while the Capitals have taken 17 more penalties than they’ve drawn so far this season. Advantage: Islanders.
The following graph plots the several possession metrics for the Capitals and Islanders for the season. This includes:
- CF% (blue)
- Goals For % (orange)
- High-Danger Shots For Percentage (red)
- High-Danger Goals For % (cyan)
- Scoring Chances For % (green)
- Expected Goals For % (yellow)
- Shooting % (pink)
- Save % (purple)
As you can see, the two teams have posted very similar stats in a couple of the categories, including CF% and GF%.
The Islanders have posted better numbers in high-danger shots, high-danger goals, scoring chances for and overall goaltending save percentage. The Capitals have posted a higher shooting percentage so far this season. Advantage: Islanders.
To little surprise, Barry Trotz and goaltending guru Mitch Korn have successfully assembled and nurtured the season’s best goaltending tandem in Semyon Varlomov and Ilya Sorokin.
As a result, the Islanders currently have the statistical edge in this department when compared to the Capitals.
[Note: The graph is somewhat misleading because of the separation between data points. All four goaltenders are in the top 10 of the East Division.] Advantage: Islanders.
GOALS AGAINST, EXPECTED GOALS AGAINST, AND GOALS SAVED ABOVE AVERAGE
The next data visualization presents the goals saved above average (GSAA – blue), goals against (cyan), expected goals against (orange) and the expected goals and goals allowed differential (red).
While VitekVanecek has given up the most goals against, but he also has the highest expected goals value. Ilya Samsonov has the lowest expected goals against. Advantage: Islanders.
HEAD-TO-HEAD POSSESSION METRICS
The next graph plots the Capitals numbers in head-to-head games with the Islanders in the three games played so far this season.
The Capitals posted solid numbers across the board in the first game against the Islanders, but the Islanders have led in most categories for the last two games. The Capitals have led in expected goals for percentage in two of the three games. Advantage: Capitals.
As you can see by the aforementioned graphs, these two teams are very close to each other, statistically, so buckle up and strap in.
By Jon Sorensen