When I was kicking around title ideas for this post I was somehow reminded of the old Joe Walsh album, “You bought it, you name it.” And while I considered using some form of the title for the post, I ultimately found it a little too brusk.
However, the underlying meaning in the Joe Walsh title ultimately aligns fairly well with the focus and the metrics associated with the Washington Capitals shots on goal per game average so far this season. Consistent? Average? Steady? Stagnate? They are all appropriate descriptors. In the end, it’s best described by your own personal perspective.
[Data utilized in this post is provided by Natural Stat Trick, Money Puck, NHL.com and NoVa Caps Advanced Analytics model. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the terms utilized in this post you can check out our NHL Analytics Glossary.]
Shots Per Game Average
The first graph simply plots the Capitals rolling shots on goal per game average after each game played this season. [Click to enlarge].
Through all of the team’s injuries, COVID absences, lineup flux and miscellaneous minutiae that the Capitals have endured this season, their shots on goal per game average has remained remarkably constant (or stagnate, steady, average, etc., depending on your perspective).
Beginning on November 17th, when their average began to level out, the Capitals have been right around 31.5 shots on goal per game average. That’s where it sits today.
So the Capitals have been consistent in their shot production for the entire season. What does this mean in comparison to the rest of the league? To add a little more color to the painting I’ve included the following graph for the Capitals league ranking in shots on goal per game average after each game this season.
The Capitals leveled out on December 17th at 15th best in shots on goal per game average, and, with the exception of a brief blip is January, they have been 15th ranked ever since. That’s also remarkable. [There are 26 data points from January 24th to today on the graph above – it just plots as a straight line].
Steady, Consistent, stagnate works both ways, and is a badge of honor when you are among the league’s best. The next graph plots the Capitals shots on goal against average after each game this season. [Click to enlarge]
You may first come to the conclusion that the Capitals are steadily giving up more shots on goal per game, and you would be technically correct. However, the increase from 28.8 shots on goal allowed average in December and their current average of 29.3 shots on goal allowed per game is essentially negligible – a half a shot per game more. The Capitals currently give up the 6th fewest shots on goal per game.
The final graph plots the Capitals league ranking in shots on goal against average for the season. It should be noted that the Capitals have been in the top 8 in shots on goal against average for the entire season, and spent a good portion of the season in the top three (fewest shots on goal against).
The Capitals have essentially slipped from third ranked in mid December to sixth ranked in the league today. Not too shabby.
So where do you land? Steady? Stagnate? Consistent? Underwhelming? Maybe it says a lot about this edition of the Washington Capitals? Maybe it doesn’t? Maybe you have a descriptor of your own.
By Jon Sorensen