The Capitals scored late in the third period on the power play to take a 1-0 lead, and then Alex Ovechkin potted an empty net goal from his defensive zone to topple the rebuilding Coyotes 2-0. In what was a sleepy affair between the two squads, the Capitals managed to work past a potential let-down game against a team that they should have beaten soundly.
Let’s take a look at a few of the key advanced analytics for the overall 5-on-5 performance between the two squads. 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.
The Capitals had a pretty dominant showing in the underlying statistical category, but failed to tally a goal during 5-on-5 play for the second straight game. It’s confounding as to why the Caps have struggled to score during r-on-5 the past couple of games, especially when controlling high-danger chances and expected goals for rates the past two games.
On top of that, the fact that the Capitals were kept off the scoresheet in the first period was pure thievery by Arizona goaltender Karel Vejmelka. The Capitals had 71.43 CF%, 75 FF%, 75 SF%, and generated seven high-danger chances to Arizona’s one. In most circumstances where numbers like this are generated through an entire period, the score doesn’t usually end up 0-0 at the end of the frame.
This is starting to look more like bad luck than bad play. The Capitals are now second in the league in 5-on-5 goals with 20. The Florida Panthers are first with 21. The Capitals have been a strong r-on-5 scoring team under Laviolette, and we’re not seeing any evidence that’ll slow down based on the underlying stats here.
Let’s take a look at how each line performed:
Hagelin and Hathaway had a bounce-back performance from their outing against Detroit when Dowd was healthy and centering their line. With Eller back on their line, they were controlling play, and were effective in suppressing shot attempts against. That’s really their job, and they do it well, especially when they’re able to cycle in the offensive zone and keep the puck away from the opponent’s top competition.
The Mantha – McMichael – Sprong line was solid in the possession game. The 33.33 SCF% is a bit misleading because they only gave up two scoring chances against and generated one. The line generated some solid chances, but like the rest of their team, came up empty on the scoresheet during 5-on-5 play.
The Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Wilson line was solid, and led the other lines in time on ice. If there’s anything to complain about, it’s that they gave up four scoring chances against and only generated two. Their possession numbers are cushioned by a 75% offensive zone face-off rate, so they were not exactly dominant at 5-on-5 .
Sheary, Lapierre, and Leason kind of got the short end of the stick in tonight’s bout. They posted solid numbers, albeit with 100% of their face-offs in the offensive zone, but they only got 5:55 of ice time tonight during 5-on-5 play. It’s very clear that Laviolette doesn’t trust Lapierre and Leason very much, and it’s not clear that mistrust is warranted. If there’s any team to let the young guys play against, it’s probably the team that’s constructed their roster to lose games instead of win them.
Let’s take a look at the defensive pairings:
Solid showings from all three pairs tonight. The only glaring issue is that the Fehervary – Carlson pairing is continuing to be in the red for SCF%. Their possession numbers were much improved, but received considerably less ice time (9:12) than against Detroit (15:43) during 5-on-5 play. Granted, a big part of that was the Coyotes creating a well-beaten path to the penalty box, with Carlson getting 7:07 of ice time on the power play.
It’s basically the same old story for the TvR – Schultz pairing. They were solid, and have been solid all year so far. There’s not much else left to say other than they should be getting more ice time during 5-on-5 play, especially with the inconsistencies that the Fehervary – Carlson pairing has shown during 5-on-5 play.
The 2-0 score in this tilt is almost disappointing. The Capitals generated the chances and opportunities to turn this game into a laugher early, but Vejmelka kept the Coyotes in the mix until the tail end of the third period.
The Caps have generated solid underlying metrics and still pass the eye test in terms of effectiveness during 5-on-5 play, but haven’t hit the twine during 5-on-5 play in the last two contests. If the Caps keep up the level of play they’ve shown the past two games, success should continue to come.
By Justin Trudel