As we continue to wrap-up our analysis of the Washington Capitals 2021-22 season, we next take a look at the performance of the Capitals forwards during the regular season and generate resultant grades for each of the forwards for their performance during the 2021-22 regular season.
The analysis will use a wide array of metrics to gauge the performance of each of the Capitals forwards during the regular season, including basic scoring stats, on-ice possession metrics, individual shot metrics and defensive metrics to derive final scores.
[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference, NHL.com and NoVa Caps’ Advanced Anlytics model. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary.]
Basic Scoring Stats
The first set of metrics we will look at are the basic stats – goals, assists and points per game. [Click to enlarge].
To no surprise, captain Alex Ovechkin led the way with the most goals (50) and best points per game average (1.17) and was second assists (40) for the season. Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team in assists (54), was second in points per game (0.99) and tied for second in goals with Tom Wilson (24). Nicklas Backstrom took a lot of heat for his performance this season, but still (quietly) finished fourth in points per game average.
Possession Metrics (5v5)
The next graphic summarizes the basic possession metrics for each of the Capitals forwards this season. This includes shot attempts for percentage (CF%), scoring chances for percentages (SCF%), goals for percentages (GF%), expected goals for percentages (xGF%), expected goals for per 60, and for additional context, offensive zone start percentages. [Click to enlarge].
Johan Larsson and Michael Sgarbossa led the team in shot attempts for percentages, with Larsson starting shifts just 30.4 percent of the time in the offensive zone. Larsson also led the team in scoring chances for percentages (57.0%) and expected goals for percentages. The sample size is relatively small (since trade deadline) but those are impressive numbers and a sweet spot for coach Laviolette. Don’t be surprised if Larsson get’s extended. He did really well filling in for Carl Hagelin, but Axel Jonsson-Fjallby is also primed for the spot and will have a lot to say about it unless he is dealt.
Excluding Mike Vecchione, Mike Sgarbossa, Beck Malenstyn and Garrett Pilon, who spent very little time with the Capitals, Connor McMichael (56.5%) turned in the second-best expected goals for percentages (behind Larsson). This is a key indicator in how well a player is generating offensive pressure. Anthony Mantha also did well (53.4%) and Marcus Johansson (55.7%) impressed in his short time with the Capitals.
Individual Shot Metrics (5v5)
The next set of metrics looks at individual possession metrics with an emphasis on shot generation. The stats include shot attempts per game (SH/GM), shooting percentage (SH%), individual high-danger shot attempts per 60 (iHDCF% per 60) and individual expected goals (ixG per 60) at even strength. [Click to enlarge].
Again to no surprise, Alex Ovechkin led all Capitals in shots per game at five-on-five (2.30). Anthony Mantha was second (1.73), Joe Snively was third (1.58) and Connor McMichael was fourth (1.53).
Excluding Garrett Pilon (who took one shot and scored) and Hendrix Lapierre who had a very small sample size, it was Joe Snively who led all Capitals forwards in shooting percentage (15.79%), although his sample size was also relatively small. He was on fire when the wrist injury ended his season. It will be very interesting to see where he picks up in the fall. Conor Sheary was second on the team in shooting percentage (13.59%) followed by Tom Wilson (13.73%) and Alex Ovechkin (13.56%).
Hendrix Lapierre, Joe Snively and Connor McMichael led all Capitals in high-danger shot attempts percentages (iHDCF%) with Garnet Hathaway next on the list.
We have included in the analysis a few key defensive metrics for each of the forwards. The following chart plots each players goals differential (Gf-Ga), goals against per 60 (Ga/60), expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) and expected goals differential (xGF – xGA) at even strength. [Click to enlarge].
Garnet Hathaway had the team’s best goals differential (+17), followed by Alex Ovechkin (+12), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+10) and Tom Wilson (+9).
Marcus Johansson (3.23) and Nicklas Backstrom (3.11) had the highest goals against per 60, followed by T.J. Oshie (2.88) and Alex Ovechkin (2.82).
Connor McMichael had the best expected goals differential (7.50) while Nicklas Backstrom (-3.89), Evgeny Kuznetsov (-3.43) and Alex Ovechkin (-3.28) had the worst.
A grade of 1-10 has been calculated for each forward, with 10 being the best score. The grade calculation incorporates the aforementioned statistics, contract value, as well as subjective consideration of other intangibles including team role (scoring, defense, etc.) and overall sample size.
We will take a look at the defensemen and derive grades for each of the blueliners in the next few days.
By Jon Sorensen