Washington Capitals Fourth Quarter/End of the Season Report: 2021-22 Season

Photo: Nova Caps

With the 2021-22 season over for the Washington Capitals, it’s time to take our regular quarterly assessment of the team for the fourth quarter of the season.

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
2021-22: 1st Quarter    2nd Quarter   3rd Quarter

2021-22 Season – Fourth Quarter

After 82 games, the Capitals compiled a 44-26-12 record and 100 points, good enough for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Their points percentage of .610 ranked fourth in their division and eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Screencap: NHL (Caption)

Inside the Numbers (Wins and Losses)

Of the Capitals’ 44 wins, 35 were in regulation, four were won in overtime that did not proceed to a shootout, and five were won in the shootout. The Capitals lost 26 games in regulation and twelve games in overtime, with nine of those overtime losses ending before the shootout.

The Capitals were 5-0-3 in October, 9-4-2 in November, 6-2-2 in December, 4-6-2 in January, 4-6-0 in February, 9-3-1 in March, and 7-5-2 in April. They went 19-16-6 at home and 25-10-6 on the road. Their 16 losses at home were the most since the 2007 season.

Scoring

The Capitals scored 270 goals, which is 16 more than the NHL average of 254 goals, and gave up 242 goals, which is twelve goals better than the league average. They had a goal differential of +28.

The “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals per NHL.com are listed as 275 and 245, given that teams are credited with an extra “Goal For” for shootout wins and credited with an extra “Goal Against” for shootout losses. In the case of the Capitals, they won five shootouts and lost three shootouts so their “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals reflect this.

Team Leaders

Goals

  • Alex Ovechkin – 50
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 24
  • Tom Wilson — 24
  • Conor Sheary — 19

Assists

  • John Carlson — 54
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov — 54
  • Alex Ovechkin — 40
  • Tom Wilson – 28

Points

  • Alex Ovechkin – 90 (50 goals, 40 assists)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 78 (24 goals, 54 assists)
  • John Carlson – 71 (17 goals; 54 assists)
  • Tom Wilson – 52 (24 goals, 28 assists)

General Statistical Analysis

Goals 

  • Of the 270 goals scored by the Capitals, 215 were at even-strength, with 179 at 5-on-5, 47 were on the power play, eight were scored shorthanded, and 21 goals were scored on an empty net.
  • The Capitals averaged 3.33 Goals Per Game, which ranks tenth in the league, while their Goals-Against Average is 2.99, which is the tenth lowest. The league average is 3.10.
  • The Capitals’ 270 goals were 26 more than the league average of 254.
  • The Capitals scored more than four goals on 16 different occasions, winning them all. They gave up more than four goals 15 times, winning one, losing 12 times in regulation, and losing twice in overtime.
  • Their record in one-goal games was 15-10-12.
  • Their record in games where the goal difference was 3 goals or more was 16-12-0.

Possession Metrics

  • Washington’s Corsi For Percentage (CF%) at 5-on-5 was 50.55%, which ranks 14th in the league.
  • The Capitals’ Fenwick For Percentage (FF%) at 5-on-5 was 51.40%, which ranks 11th in the league.
  • The Capitals’ Shots For Percentage (SF%) at 5-on-5 was 51.51%, which ranks 11th in the league.
  • The Capitals Goals For Percentage (GF%) at 5-on-5 was 53.27%, which ranks 11th in the league.
  • The Capitals’ Expected Goals For Percentage (xFG%) at 5-on-5 was 50.58%, which ranks 15th in the league.
  • The Capitals’ Scoring Chances For Percentage (SCF%) at 5-on-5 is 53.41%, which ranks 9th in the league. They had 1821 scoring chances and 1792 scoring chances against.
  • Washington’s Percentage Driven Outcome (PDO) at 5-on-5 is 1.006 based on a shot percentage of 8.97% and a save percentage of 91.64.

The full set of team advanced statistics from Natural Stat Trick can be found here. Most of the Caps’ possession rankings were near the middle of the league.

Natural Stat Trick lists a breakout of Capitals’ players’ offensive statistics through the end of the regular season at 5-on-5. It shows goals, primary, and secondary assists, followed by a breakout of advanced statistics.

Link here for more detailed grades on each of the Capitals’ forwards. Link here for more detailed grades on each of the Capitals’ defensemen.

Additional Statistics

  • The Capitals took 2,577 shots on goal and gave up 2,378 shots on goal. At 5-on-5, they took 1995 shots, which ranks 15th and opponents took 1878 shots, which ranks sixth. Their overall Shooting Percentage was 10.5% which ranks ninth.
  • The Capitals took an average of 31.2 shots per game and gave up an average of 29.2 shots.
  • The Capitals won 47.1% of their faceoffs, which ranks 30th in the league.

Goaltending

Vitek Vanecek played in 42 games, starting 39, and made 1014 saves on 1117 shots for a save percentage of .908, which is at his career save percentage of .908. He’s had just one NHL season before this season. He had a 20-12-6  record for the year. Vanecek authored four shutouts this season.

Ilya Samsonov played in 44 games, starting 39, and had a 23-12-5 record for the year, making 1026 saves on 1145 shots for a save percentage of .896. That is below his career save percentage of .902 but he only has two seasons of NHL experience, besides this season. Samsonov authored three shutouts this season.

Click here for an analysis of the goaltending and factors on which goaltender they might keep between Vanecek and Samsonov.

Special Teams

For the season, the Capitals scored 47 power-play goals on 251 power-play opportunities for a conversion rate of 18.73%, which ranked 23rd in the league, worse than the league average of 20.59%.

The Capitals Penalty Kill percentage was 80.27%. They have killed 179 penalties out of 223 opportunities, which ranked 13th out of 32 teams. Their penalty minutes per game was 7.6 which was the sixth-lowest in the league. Opponents earned 8.9 penalty minutes per game which ranked 21st.

The Capitals scored eight shorthanded goals and gave up nine shorthanded goals this year.

Major Milestones

The fourth quarter saw players achieve several major milestones:

  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal on 4/20 against the Las Vegas Knights, which tied Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most seasons scoring 50 or more goals; i.e. nine times
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 1410th NHL point and now ranks 20th on the All-Time List. During the fourth quarter, he passed Luc Robitaille (1394), Jari Kurri (1398), and Dale Hawerchuk (1409)
  • T.J. Oshie played in his 900th career game on 4/29 against the New York Rangers.
  • Justin Schultz played in his 600th career game on 4/26 against the New York Islanders
  • John Carlson passed Dale Hunter (872) for the sixth-most games played in franchise history on 3/28 against the Carolina Hurricanes
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov passed Scott Stevens (331) for 10th on the franchise assists list on 3/26 against the New Jersey Devils
  • Nicklas Backstrom passed Denis Potvin and Patrick Kane (742) for the 45th-most assists in NHL history, 4/6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 The Road Ahead

The Capitals played the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs and fell to them in six games. After the playoffs, the players and coaching staff felt they had given the series away, as their losses featured blown leads. Specific points were raised by Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and General Manager Brian MacLellan.

After an injury-plagued season, T.J. Oshie revealed that he expects no problems with playing a full season next year. The team’s leading playoff scorer was Oshie with six goals and one assist. Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and four assists while Alex Ovechkin had one goal and five assists.

The road ahead this off-season includes evaluating the team’s needs, with a focus on goaltending, as well as the health of individual players. Tom Wilson’s knee injury turned out to be significant. Nicklas Backstrom was bothered by a hip condition for much of the season and was unable to play in any games until December, as a result.  He is currently evaluating options, including rehabilitation and possibly surgery. For goaltending, the decision will be whether to keep either Vitek Vanecek, Ilya Samsonov, or both of them or find a veteran goaltender.

Statistics were obtained from NHL.com, Hockey Reference, Puck Base, and Quanthockey. Standings and statistics are complete through the end of the 2021-22 season.

By Diane Doyle

Related Reading
Washington Capitals First Quarter Review: 2021-22 Season
Washington Capitals Second Quarter Review: 2021-22 Season
Declining Trends In The Washington Capitals’ Possession Metrics: A Cautionary Tale
Performance Review: Vitek Vanecek And Ilya Samsonov After The First 52 Games Of The 2021-22 Season
Making The Grade: Grades For Washington Capitals Forwards For The 2021-22 Season
The Potential Factors Regarding Which Goaltender The Capitals Will Trade This Offseason
Blueline Performance Review: Ranking And Grading The Washington Capitals Defensemen For The 2021-22 Season

 

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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