Postgame Analytics Review: Caps Dominate Rangers In Season Opener

Photo: Patrick Smith/NHL via Getty Images

The Capitals opened up the 2021-22 regular season in style, dominating the Rangers, 5-1Alex Ovechkin potted two goals, his second technically being a short handed goal, and recorded four points on the night. Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied three assists, and TJ Oshie had a goal and an assist on rookie Hendrix Lapierre’s first career NHL goal.

Let’s a look at a few of the key advanced analytics for the overall 5-on-5 performance between the two rivals. If you’d like to learn more about the advanced analytical terms used in this post, please check out our glossary. Statistics in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

Let’s take a look at the overall advanced stats from the tilt against the Rangers:

Overall, the Capitals controlled all aspects of the game, from possession to chance generation. The Caps took control of this game in the second period, a common thread from last season when they routinely outscored opponents.

The Caps put up a 66.67 Corsi For percentage (CF%) and a 78.57 Fenwick For percentage (FF%). Washington also had 10 of the 12 total scoring chances in the second frame during 5-on-5 play and generated the only high danger chance of the frame.

In the first period, the surface-level shots on goal had the Rangers with the advantage, but the scoring chances were owned seven to four by the Caps. The issue wasn’t generating chances, it was getting clean shots on goal.

Overall, the entire team’s effort during 5-on-5 play was excellent, and is hopefully something we’ll see more often this season.

Here’s how each line performed:

Here we are again, with the Dowd line absolutely dominating play. The so-called fourth line hemmed the Rangers in their zone, repeatedly, and the proof is in the pudding, here.

The Eller line was also excellent, but was unrewarded during 5-on-5 play. On the ridiculous front, Anthony Mantha owned an 82.7 Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%) during 5-on-5 play. His lone point came off a nice chest pass to Ovechkin for his first power play tally of the season.

The real interesting marks are the pretty low marks from the Kuznetsov line and the Lapierre line. The Lapierre line was the only line that generated a goal during 5-on-5 play, which plays into how unpredictable hockey is. It’s not even that these two lines played poorly, they were typically stuck in their own zone for large portions of their shifts.

And now, let’s take a look at the defensive pairings:

The best pairing of the night was the van Riemsdyk and Schultz pair. A 72.9 xGF% is extremely solid, and routinely suppressed shot attempts against and generated more scoring chances for than against at a high rate.

Fehervary and Carlson were strong together as well, with Fehervary looking solid in his first NHL action since the 2019-20 season. Fehervary posted a 68.75 CF%, a 71.43 FF%, and a 71.43 SCF% individually.

The Orlov – Jensen pairing is the one to watch. They put up seriously strong numbers together last season, and if those two get back to that level, the Caps have three solid pairings.

Summary

There’s not much to complain about in a 5-1 victory over a division rival. The Capitals performed extremely well in the underlying statistics during 5-on-5 play, scored three power play goals, and Ovi technically scored a short handed goal, his first since the 2008-09 season (via Hockey-Reference).

It’ll be interesting how this game translates to Saturday’s tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the first matchup with the Bolts since the round robin in the playoff bubble in 2020.

By Justin Trudel

About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager at a non-profit in Jacksonville, FL. Justin enjoys geeking out over roster construction and cap management.
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