Washington Capitals First Quarter Review: 2021-22 Season

Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

With the Washington Capitals having played 20 games in the 2021-2022 season, it’s time for our annual quarterly assessment of the team. In this piece we will look at the first quarter of the Capitals’ season.

After 20 games, the Capitals have a 12-3-5 record with 29 points, are in second place in Metropolitan Division, third place in the Eastern Conference and third overall in the NHL. The Capitals are technically tied with the Carolina Hurricanes in points but since the Canes have two games in hand and a better points percentage, they are considered to be ahead of the Capitals in the standings.

Links to Past Quarterly Recaps

2017-18:  1st Quarter   2nd Quarter   3rd Quarter  4th Quarter
2018-19: 1st Quarter   2nd Quarter   3rd Quarter  4th Quarter
2019-20: 1st Quarter   2nd Quarter   3rd Quarter  4th Quarter
2020-21: 1st Trimester  2nd Trimester 3rd Trimester

Inside the Numbers (Wins and Losses)

Of the Capitals’ 12 wins, all 12 were won in regulation. They have lost five games in overtime, with those losses all ending before a shootout could take place.

To break down totals by month, the Capitals were 5-0-3 in October and 7-3-2 during November, so far. They have gone 6-1-3 at home and 6-2-2 on the road.

Scoring

The Capitals have scored 70 goals, which is 14 more than the NHL average of 50 goals, and have given up 47 goals, which is six goals better than the league average. Their Goal Differential is +23.

The “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals in the NHL.com standings board are also listed as 70 and 47. Teams get credited with an extra “Goal For” for shootout wins and debited with an extra “Goal Against” for shootout losses. In the case of the Caps, they have not participated in any shootouts so their “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals are not different than the actual number of goals scored and given up.

Team Leaders

Goals

  • Alex Ovechkin – 15
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson – 7
  • Conor Sheary, Garnet Hathaway – 5

Assists

  • Alex Ovechkin – 18
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 16
  • John Carlson – 14
  • Tom Wilson – 10

Points

  • Alex Ovechkin – 33 (15 goals, 18 assists)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 24 (seven goals, 17 assists)
  • John Carlson – 18 (four goals; 14 assists)
  • Tom Wilson – 17 (seven goals, 10 assists)

More complete team offensive statistics are in chart below. [Click to enlarge]

General Statistical Analysis

Goals 

  • Of the 70 goals scored the Capitals scored, 56 were at even-strength, with 52 at 5-on-5 even-strength. 11 were on the power play, three were scored shorthanded, and 4 goals scored on an empty-net.
  • Of the 47 goals the Capitals have given up, 37 were at even-strength, with 30 at 5-on-5 even-strength. Eight were on the opponents’ power play and two were when the team was shorthanded.
  • The Capitals have scored four empty-net goals and their opponents have scored twice. If the Capitals left the net empty in favor of an extra attacker, they have not scored but the opponents have scored once.
  • The Caps have averaged 3.50 Goals Per Game, which ranks tied for fourth in the league with the Florida Panthers, while their Goals-Against Average is 2.35, which is fifteenth-worst.
  • The Capitals have scored more than four goals on six different occasions, winning them all. They have given up five goals three times, winning one, losing once in regulation and once in overtime. Their record in one goal games is 1-2-5. Their record in games where the goal difference is three goals or more is 5-1-0.

Possession Metrics

  • Corsi For Percentage — Washington’s Corsi For Percentage (CF%) at even-strength is 51.49%, which ranks 12th in the league.
  • Fenwick For Percentage – The Capitals’ Fenwick For Percentage (FF%) at even-strength is 53.43%, which ranks fourth in the league.
  • Shots For Percentage – The Capitals’ Shots For Percentage (SF%) at even-strength is 53.45%, which ranks fourth in the league.
  • Goals For Percentage – The Capitals Goals For Percentage (GF%) at even-strength is 63.41%, which ranks fourth in the league.
  • Expected Goals For Percentage – The Capitals’ Expected Goals For Percentage (xFG%) at even-strength is 52.49%, which ranks ninth in the league.
  • Scoring Chance For Percentage – The Capitals’ Scoring Chance For Percentage (SCF%) at even-strength is 50.82%, which ranks 15th in the league. They had 435 scoring chances and 431 scoring chances against.
  • PDO — Washington’s Percentage Driven Outcome (PDO) at even-strength is 1.035 based on a shot percentage of 10.48% and a Save Percentage of 93.06 or expressed in three digits as .931

Below is a breakout of players’ offensive statistics at 5-on-5 even-strength to detail the goals, primary, and secondary assists, followed by a breakout of advanced statistics for the players.

 

See Natural Stat Trick for a more complete breakdown of these individual statistics.

See Natural Stat Trick for a more complete breakdown.

Additional Statistics

  • The Capitals have taken 631 shots on goal and given up 546 shots. At Even-Strength, they have taken 496 shots and opponents have taken 432 shots. Their overall Shooting Percentage is 11.1%.
  • The Capitals currently rank 17th in the league in shots per game with 31.6 and have given up an average of 27.3 shots, which ranks as second fewest.
  • The Capitals have won 46.6% of their faceoffs, which ranks 28th in the league.

Goaltending

Goaltender Vitek Vanecek has played in 12 games and had 271 saves on 299 shots for a save percentage of .906 in the first quarter, which is slightly below his career save percentage of .908. He has only had one NHL season prior to this season. He has an 4-3-4 record for the year.

Goaltender Ilya Samsonov has played in nine games, starting seven and has a 7-0-1 record for the year, with a save percentage of .920. That is above his career save percentage of .910 but he only has two seasons of NHL experience. Samsonov has authored three shutouts this season,

The team’s overall save percentage is .914 which is better than the league average percentage of .907. The statistics include the shutout game of Zach Fucale who was in one game. Vanecek and Samsonov are considered to be a 1A/1B tandem. As a whole, the team’s goaltending tandem has authored four shutouts.

Special Teams

For the season, the Capitals have scored 11 power play goals on 61 power play opportunities, for a conversion rate of 18.03%, which currently ranks 20th in the league and is worse than the league average of 19.90%.

The Capitals Penalty Kill percentage is 84.31, as they killed 43 penalties in 51 opportunities, which ranks 13th out of 31 teams. Their penalty minutes per game is 6.4 which is tied for lowest in the league.

The Capitals have given the other team an average of 3.65 power plays a game and give up an average of .55 goals per game. The Capitals have scored three shorthanded goals and given up two shorthanded goals this year.

Milestones Reached

Alex Ovechkin

  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 731st and 732nd career goals which tied and passed Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth place in career goals on October 13 at home against the New York Rangers.
  • Ovechkin scored the 741st career goal of his career on November 8 at home against the Buffalo Sabres, tying Brett Hull for the fourth place in NHL career goals.
  • Ovechkin scored his 742nd goal of his career on November 12 on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets to pass Brett Hull for 4th place in NHL career goals.
  • Ovechkin had his 150th multi-goal game on October 13 at home against the New York Rangers. He currently ranks fourth in NHL history, only behind Wayne Gretzky (189), Brett Hull (158), and Mario Lemieux (154).
  • Ovechkin recorded his 600th career assist on November 8 at home against the Buffalo Sabres, becoming just the second player in Capitals history to reach the mark, joining Nicklas Backstrom (722). He is also one of only nine active players to reach the milestone.
  • Ovechkin recorded his 603rd and 604th career assists on November 14 at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins which tied him with Pavel Datsyuk for the fourth-most assists by a Russian-born player.
  • Ovechkin recorded his 605th career assist on November 16 against the Anaheim Ducks on the road, allowing him to pass Pavel Datsyuk for the fourth-most assists by a Russian-born player
  • Ovechkin recorded his 1,350th point on November 21 against the Seattle Kraken on the road, allowing him to become the first Russian-born player to record 1,350 NHL points.
  • Ovechkin records his 1351st, 1352nd, and 1353rd points on November 24 against the Montreal Canadiens at home, tying Guy LaFleur for 27th on the All Time list for NHL points.
  • Ovechkin had his 382nd career multi-point game on November 14 at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, tying him with Brett Hull and Teemu Selanne for 22nd place for most multi-point games in NHL history.
  • Ovechkin had his 383rd career multi-point game on November 20 on the road against the San Jose Sharks, allowing him to pass Brett Hull and Teemu Selanne for 22nd place for most multi-point games in NHL history.
  • Ovechkin had his 384th career multi-point game on November 24 at home against  Montreal, tying him with Jarri Kurri for 21st place for most multi-point games in NHL history.
  • Ovechkin played in his 1200th NHL game on October 19 at home against the Colorado Avalanche.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov earned his 100th career multi point game, getting 3 assists on October 13 at home against the New York Rangers.
  • Kuznetsov passed Kevin Hatcher (426) for 13th on the Capitals’ franchise points list on October 23 at home against the Calgary Flames.
  • Kuznetsov passed Scott Stevens (429) for 12th on the Capitals’ franchise points list on October 29 at home against the Arizona Coyotes.
  • Kuznetsov passed Dennis Maruk (431) for 11th on the Capitals’ franchise points list on November 8 against the Buffalo Sabres
  • Kuznetsov earned his 300th career assist on November 8 against the Buffalo Sabres

John Carlson

  • Carlson tied Michal Pivonka (418) for third place on the franchise assists list on November 17 against the Los Angeles Kings on the road.
  • Carlson passed Michal Pivonka (418) for third on the franchise assists list on November 20 against the San Jose Sharks on the road.

Others

  • Anthony Mantha scored his 100th career goal on October 19 at home against the Colorado Avalanche.
  • Peter Laviolette earned his 674th career NHL win to move into the top spot all time among American-born coaches on October 13 against the New York Rangers at home, surpassing John Tortorella, who is at 673.
  • Peter Laviolette earned his 685th career win to pass Pat Quinn (684) for the 11th-most wins by a head coach in NHL history
  • Lars Eller played in his 800th NHL game on October 16 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at home.
  • Garnet Hathaway played in his 300th game on October 19 at home against the Colorado Avalanche.
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk played in his 400th career game on November 16 on the road against the Anaheim Ducks.

Milestones within Reach

  • Tom Wilson – Three goals shy of 100 career goals.
  • Lars Eller – three points shy of passing Mikkel Boedker (327) for second on the all-time Danish points list.
  • Alex Ovechkin – 2 points shy of tying Dave Andreychuk (274) for the most power play goals in NHL history.

Injuries and Illness

  • Lars Eller: 11/16-11/24 (5 games) – Covid protocol
  • Anthony Mantha: 11/6-11/24 (10 games) – Shoulder surgery
  • Nicklas Backstrom: 10/13-11/24 (20 games) — Hip
  • T.J. Oshie: 10/29-11/17, 11/214 (11 games) — Foot
  • Nic Dowd: 10/25, 10/29-11/1, 11/11-11/17 (8 games) –Various 

The Road Ahead

The Caps play the Florida Panthers at home on November 26 and then travel to Carolina to play the Hurricanes on November 28 and then to Florida on November 30 before returning home for another home stand, starting with a game with Anaheim on December 2.

Assessment

The Capitals have earned a 12-3-5 record with 27 points and, at the current pace, would qualify for the playoffs.

This quarter was a march towards milestones for Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and John Carlson, who kept moving up the NHL career leaderboards in many statistical categories.

Many of the forwards have been injured for significant stretches this season, including Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, T.J. Oshie, Nic Dowd, and Anthony Mantha.

Two rookies, Connor McMichael at forward and Martin Fehervary on defense, have become lineup regulars. Several other rookies have been called up from the Hershey Bears to fill in for injured players: Aliaksei Protas, Brett Leason, Axel Johsson-Fiallby, and Garrett Pilon. Another rookie, Hendrix LaPierre appeared in 6 games before being returned to The QMJHL.

Statistics obtained from NHL.com, Hockey Reference, Puck Base, and Quanthockey. Statistics are complete through the games of 11/24/2021

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By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
This entry was posted in Data and Analytics, Goaltending, News, NHL, Teams, Washington Capitals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Washington Capitals First Quarter Review: 2021-22 Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    Caps much better than expected and without Backstrom, Mantha, and other sig players… Martin F much better than expected as is Trevor VR… nice to see the rookies playing

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