Hot Or Not: Teams Heating Up And Cooling Down As The Postseason Approaches

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Well, that went fast.

There are just just 12 games remaining in the Capitals’ abbreviated 56-game regular season schedule. That’s it. The season will close two weeks from Tuesday with a home tilt against the Bruins on May 11 at Capital One Arena.

Teams are always looking to find their best game and highest level of play right as the postseason begins, although by game 3 of the first round of the playoffs also works well.  So with a chance to advance to the postseason looming on the near horizon, we wanted to take a look at the teams that have been heating up (and cooling down) in recent days as the NHL postseason approaches.

We will first look at the hot and cold teams in the East Division and conclude with an overarching look at the heaters and sinkers throughout the league.

[All data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, and compiled for games completed through April 15.]


EAST DIVISION

POINTS PERCENTAGE – LAST 30 DAYS

The New York Rangers have been the hottest team in the East Division over the past 30 days, amassing a .688 points percentage, and are now just four points out of a playoff spot. If they continue this torrid pace, they just might catch the Bruins in 4th place. (Click to enlarge).

The Penguins have the second best points percentage (.667) over the last month, as they begin to reach the easier part of their schedule. The Capitals have the fourth best points percentage over the last 30 days, but unfortunately, they are beginning to enter the toughest part of their schedule. The Islanders have cooled off, but have key games with the Capitals starting next week.

AVERAGE GOALS PER GAME DIFFERENTIAL – LAST 30 DAYS

Average goals per game differential takes the difference between the average goals scored per game (GF/GM) and the average goals against per game (GA/GM).

Once again the Rangers have the greatest positive per game average differential, scoring 1.81 goals per game more than they have allowed. The Capitals are third in the East Division with a .570 differential. The Islanders, Bruins and Flyers have all cooled off in this area over the last 30 days.

EXPECTED GOALS FOR PERCENTAGE (xGF%) 5v5 – LAST 30 DAYS

A look at the cumulative expected goals for percentages (5v5) over the last 30 days tells a slightly different story, as the Devils (53.37%), Bruins (52.58%) and Islanders (52.07) have posted the best expected goals for percentages over that time period.

The Capitals are next to last in the East Division (47.54%) over the last 30 days.

It will be interesting to see if this downward trend continues over the final 12 games of the season, now that they will be facing the top teams in the division.

SHOOTING PERCENTAGE – 5v5 – LAST 30 DAYS

The Rangers and Capitals poor expected goals for percentages are buoyed by having the division’s best shooting percentages over the past 30 days. In fact, they are second and third, respectively, in the entire league with only the the Colorado Avalanche (11.58%) having a better percentage.

The Capitals have been in the 10-11% range all season, while the league average over the past 30 days has been 8.1%, with the average hovering in that area on a regular basis. This is nothing new for the Capitals.

GOALTENDERS – ALL STRENGTHS – LAST 30 DAYS

Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers and Jeremy Swayman of the Bruins have been the hottest netminders in the East Division over the last 30 days, however Swayman has only seen action in four games over the last month (just meeting the minimum criteria for this assessment. (Click to enlarge).

Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have been fairly steady over the past 30 days, with Vanecek moving closer to the top tier in the division, occasionally falling outside the top right (best) quadrant.

Hot: Rangers, Penguins. Not: Flyers, Devils Sabres.


AROUND THE LEAGUE

POINTS PERCENTAGE – LAST 30 DAYS

The Colorado Avalanche have been a fairly successful team all season, but have raised their game even more over the last 30 days. This needs to be tempered down a bit, as they are playing in a division where there are a greater concentration of weaker teams. Nonetheless, they are steamrolling down the back stretch to the regular season finish line. (Click to enlarge).

The Nashville Predators have been the league’s second hottest team over the last 30 days (.750, followed by the Edmonton Oilers (.727), Toronto Maple Leafs (.714) and the New York Rangers (688).

AVERAGE GOALS PER GAME DIFFERENTIAL – LAST 30 DAYS

The following visualization plots the average goals per game differential (GF/GM – GA/GM) for all 31 teams over the last 30 days. (Click to enlarge).

The Avalanche also sit atop the league with the best goal differential per game average, closely followed by the New York Rangers. The Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins are also heating up in this category.

The Capitals sit eighth in the league while the Flyers have the worst differential in the entire league over the last 30 days.

EXPECTED GOALS FOR PERCENTAGE (xGF%) 5v5 – LAST 30 DAYS

Once again, the Colorado Avalanche top the league in expected goals for percentage over the last 30 days (62.70%), followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs (59.49%) and Carolina Hurricanes (56.19%).

The Capitals have been in the bottom third of the league in expected goals for percentage for a good portion of the season, and sit 21st in expected goals for percentage over the last 30 days. Again, this is nothing new for the Capitals.

Hot: Avalanche, Predators. Not: Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Wild.


Have no fear, there is still a little time to for teams to heat up, if not now, at least by game three of the first round of the playoffs. We’ll track the trends and update this post on the eve of the playoffs. In the meantime, it’s a good time to get your high blood pressure medicine restocked.

We will find out a lot about this Capitals team over the next five to seven games, as they visit the Flyers and Bruins, who were both embarrassed by the Capitals in their previous meetings. The will be looking for redemption. Then the Capitals have a three-game set with the Islanders and a two-game set with the Penguins.

Buckle up.

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 Civil 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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2 Responses to Hot Or Not: Teams Heating Up And Cooling Down As The Postseason Approaches

  1. Anonymous says:

    Rangers may have started a bit too late this season. They are good, young and will be a contender next season, if they don’t catch the 4th place spot in the meantime.

  2. Jon Sorensen says:

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