Capitals Persevere In Pittsburgh: By The Numbers

Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals overcame a sloppy first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins to take a 6-3 victory in the Steel City on Saturday. The Capitals have now won five-straight on the road, improving their record on the road to 22-7-5 on the season, and are now 6-2-2 when opponents score first in road games.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the shot generation metrics in today’s matinee against the Penguins, as well as a few of the interesting line performances that are worth revisiting when the Capitals take the ice again Sunday afternoon against the Boston Bruins.

If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our analytics glossary. Statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference.

First, let’s take a look at Corsi shot attempts generated versus allowed by period:

The Caps were certainly outclassed in the first two frames of the game in terms of possession metrics, posting a 41.94 CF% in the first period and a 35.71 CF% in the second. The third period is where the tide started to turn, and the Capitals started generating more momentum.

You can see how the trend moved back in the Capitals’ favor in this graphic from Natural Stat Trick:

Not only did they start reining in the shot attempts against, the Capitals started paying more attention to detail in regards to high-danger chances in the final frame:

Offensively, the Capitals were pretty steady in generating high-danger chances, posting four per period during five-on-five play. The other piece of the puzzle for the successful third period was the fact that the Capitals owned the majority of scoring chances in the third, posting 11 chances to six allowed.

After a rough end to the first period, props have to be given to Ilya Samsonov, who kept the Penguins off the board in the final two periods of the game. Samsonov saw 18 shots on goal in the second and third periods, including 24 scoring chances and nine high-danger chances against. His play helped solidify the skaters’ play in front of him.

Here’s the shot map from today’s affair, via Natural Stat Trick:

One thing to keep an eye on in tomorrow’s matinee against the Bruins: the Mantha – Backstrom – Wilson line was horrific during five-on-five play against the Penguins:

You’re reading this right, the Backstrom line gave up more Corsi shot attempts against than all the other lines combined during five-on-five play. Those three were consistently hemmed in their own end by the Penguins, and it’s really a wonder why those three were kept together. This was even more obvious after Wilson scored the game winning goal while on the ice with Ovechkin. Laviolette and the coaching staff should probably revisit the line combinations. [Click to enlarge]

Summary

The Capitals are among the leagues best in relation to winning on the road, and that’s a good place to be as a probable lower seed in the playoffs. The biggest questions facing the Caps down the stretch are goaltending consistency and health. We’ll see how the Caps fare on the back end of a back to back with the Bruins tomorrow.

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. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
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6 Responses to Capitals Persevere In Pittsburgh: By The Numbers

  1. steven says:

    Good game and they played really ahrd especially after Sammy let in not 1 but 2 leaky, weak goals. I know that they called a penalty on Crosby however the Caps scored on the delay and therefore there was no PP. Seems that there are special rules for him and after punching a player he should have received either a 5 or a game misconduct. Shame that the refs dont call 1/4 of the stuff he does as he would be in the penalty box more than Wilson ever was.

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    At least the team recovered from a shaky first period.

    Normally, the Wilson/Backstrom/Mantha line has been well regarded but not their day today.

  3. Jon Sorensen says:

    Connor McMichael is getting it done. Period. It’s surprising more shot haven’t landed for him so far. He’s been an accurate shooter up until this season. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing, they will fall.

  4. novafyre says:

    Connor was a center at Hershey but until recently Laviolette kept him on left wing — when he put him on the ice. I have noticed that NBCSW are giving him more compliments once he moved back to center.

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