The Capitals’ first trip to Canada was quite the offensive showing, with the Capitals outlasting the Ottawa Senators, 7-5. Alex Ovechkin continues his scorching hot pace to start the season with two goals, and TJ Oshie tallied a hat trick. Rookie Connor McMichael posted his first NHL point and first multi-point effort of his career.
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 Senators:
The Capitals controlled the possession aspect of the game against Ottawa, with solid Corsi and Fenwick For marks. The Capitals had some issues suppressing high-danger chances against (14) but actually ended up scoring three high danger goals compared to Ottawa’s one during 5-on-5 play.
This game should likely be the exception to the norm when it comes to the amount of scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances tallied by each team. That being said, the bevy of these scoring chances is why there were 12 goals scored in this game.
The Caps scored all seven of their goals during 5-on-5 play, bringing them to 20 total on the season, which ranks first in the NHL so far this young season. Through the first 62 games of the Laviolette regime, the Capitals have the most 5-on-5 goals in the NHL with 151, six more than the next best team in Vegas.
Now, let’s take a look at how each forward line performed:
Each line performed admirably, with the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Wilson line being one of the best on the ice for the Caps against Ottawa. They generated five high-danger chances for to three against, owned the majority of scoring chances while on the ice, and really controlled possession against the young Ottawa squad.
The Mantha-McMichael-Oshie line was the most notable line on the ice, with Oshie potting three goals during 5-on-5 play. The Oshie line also had an even split for scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances, but still were on the wrong side of 50% for xGF%.
The Sheary-Lapierre-Sprong line put up pretty solid numbers, but only received 7:22 of time on ice together. They were the only line for the Capitals that didn’t crack 10 minutes of ice time, which likely shows that Laviolette didn’t have much trust in the trio in such a defensively challenged game.
The typical fourth line’s stability was shaken up for the contest in Ottawa, with Nic Dowd missing tonight’s tilt. Lars Eller filled in admirably there, and the “fourth” line had a strong showing in possession numbers. They did struggle in high-danger chance suppression, giving up five high-danger chances and only generating two.
Now, let’s take a look at the defensive pairings:
The van Riemsdyk-Schultz pairing has been excellent so far this season, and tonight was no different. The main question for these two is whether or not they’re going to be rewarded with a bit more 5-on-5 ice time. They had 13:52 of ice time in this tilt, and with this performance likely deserved more.
The Fehervary-Carlson pairing has been inconsistent. They’ve really ebbed and flowed, and both Fehervary and Carlson had the two worst individual CF% for the Caps tonight. In fact, they were the only two Capitals that put up a sub-50 CF%. The eye test isn’t quite as bad, but more consistency will be required from this pairing for long term success to be viable.
The Orlov-Jensen pairing had another strong showing, with solid marks across the board other than xGF%. The xGF% was likely skewed since they were on the ice for four high danger chances against while only generating two high danger chances. High danger chances have a large impact on xGF, so it’s not a surprise that their xGF struggled.
The Caps escaped with a 7-5 win over the Ottawa Senators after squandering a 4-1 lead entering the second period. The ice was wide open, but the Caps ended up handling the Senators well, although they were outclassed in the speed department by the Senators.
The concerning aspect of the Capitals young season is its struggles on special teams. The Capitals have not scored a power play goal since opening night against the Rangers. The Caps have only scored three power play goals in 21 opportunities, and have given up two shorthanded goals against. The penalty kill now clocks in at 70.6% (27th in the NHL), and has given up a goal in five of six games played this season.
Overall, if the Capitals can figure out their special teams performance while keeping their five on five play consistent with what we’ve seen so far, they should have more success.
By Justin Trudel