The Capitals power play has been an interesting follow over the course of this unique, abbreviated season. At times it’s looked like the unit can’t be stopped, and other times it’s looked like the unit would never score again. Then there are the shorthanded goals the power play units have allowed this season.
The Capitals currently lead the league in shorthanded goals allowed with eight. The Toronto Maple Leafs are second in the league with six shorthanded goals allowed. But just how bad has this season been in comparison to other seasons in Capitals franchise history? It’s been bad when compared to the last 20 years, but it’s nowhere near the franchise’s worst.
SHORTHANDED GOALS ALLOWED PER GAME AVERAGES (1974 – 2021)
The Capitals eight shorthanded goals allowed in 50 games equates to a .16 shorthanded goals allowed per game average. That’s their worst average since the 2006-2007 season and the third worst average since the 1991-1992 season. (Click to enlarge).
It’s not too much of a surprise that the Capitals allowed a lot of shorthanded goals in their first 20 years of existence, which you can easily see on the left side of the chart above.
Here is a plot of the actual number of shorthanded goals allowed for each season. Games played per season range from 40 to 84 games per season. (Click to enlarge)
The worst years came in their inaugural season and in the 2005-2006 seasons when they allowed a whopping 18 shorthanded goals.
But what about the difference between shorthanded goals allowed per game and power play goals per game averages. This would give us a better take on the overall effectiveness of the power play units for each season of existence.
POWER PLAY GOALS PER GAME AVERAGES
In order to look at the overall differential, we first need to derive the power play goals per game averages for each season, which is presented in the following graph.
The Capitals power play goals per game average of .7200 this season is actually up from .6087 last season. In fact, this is the first increase since the 2012-2013 season.
POWER PLAY GOALS PER GAME AND SHORTHANDED GOALS ALLOWED PER GAME AVERAGES PER SEASON
The good news is that the Capitals are reversing a rather lengthy downward trend this season. The following graph plots the difference between power play goals scored per game and shorthanded goals allowed per game averages (PPG/GM – PPGA/GM) from 1974 to present.
This season is actually the first season since 2012-2013 season where the power play goals and shorthanded goals differential (.560) has actually improved from the previous season (.478). In fact, prior to this season the average had steadily declined since the 2012-2013 season, when the unit was coached by Adam Oates.
So while Capitals lead the league in shorthanded goals allowed this season, the differential between power play goals scored per game and shorthanded goals allowed per game has improved from the previous season.
By Jon Sorensen