Midday Breakaway: What’s “Expected” For Connor McMichael, Lucas Johansen, Joe Snively And Axel Jonsson-Fjallby


Earlier this week we presented the “expected goals for” stat for each of the Capitals so far this preseason. (An explanation of the stat can be found here.) The preseason data shows that prospects Lucas Johansen and Joe Snively have done well creating expected goals for (scoring chances), while Connor McMichael and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby have struggled so far this preseason.

Again, the data set is a relatively small sample size (4 games), with the number of games played varying significantly from player to player.

2021-2022 SEASON – xGF, xGA, (xGF – xGA) and xGF%

The saving grace for Connor McMichael (and others) is expected goals for differential data from last season, obviously a much larger sample size. McMichael had the team’s second-best expected goals for differential among all Capitals skaters. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby’s numbers were better as well. [Click to enlarge].

You’ll also notice that the Capitals top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, while they scored a lot of goals at 5-on-5, they didn’t generate as many expected goals (scoring chances) as the opposition did when they were on the ice. Something to keep an eye on this season.

THE CASE FOR MARTIN FEHERVARY

Last year’s numbers also shed light on Martin Fehervary’s late season struggles, as he ended with the worst expected goals differential for the season.

We previously detailed Fehervary’s late-season dip (here). Fehervary got off to an excellent start last season, with all key metrics well into the positive range. Then he hit a wall mid-season. Some have surmised the demarcation point was around the same time that he had his bout with Covid in late December, and that could have been a part of the issue. But I tend to think it was a combination of several key factors, most importantly his new workload as an NHL rookie. [Click to enlarge].

Fehervary played a total of 90 games last season (Capitals and Team Slovakia) which was 25 or so more games than his previous season high. He recorded an expected goals for percentage of 52.53% on December 19, but was on a steady decline for the remainder of the season. He dipped to a season low on March 15 and then showed some improvement, but began to decline again on April 6. I “expect” Fehervary will carry his good start further into this season, and have better numbers next spring.

CAVEATS AND CONTEXT

As we always try to reinforce with ALL statistics, the expected goals differential metric is a single brush stroke to an overall painting. It provides part of the overall picture, but in no way should it be used alone to render an overall verdict or opinion on a player.

In the case of Connor McMichael and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby,, I would definitely consider their numbers from last season, when comparing to their slow start this preseason, but again, it’s something to keep an eye on.

We are one week from opening night.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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3 Responses to Midday Breakaway: What’s “Expected” For Connor McMichael, Lucas Johansen, Joe Snively And Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

  1. Jonathan says:

    You point to McM’s xGF numbers last year as a good thing and something that should be considered. Excuse my simplicity here: that means Kuzy and Ovi’s numbers last year were terrible. Please use this info to analyze the detriment they are to the team.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Because he’s waivers exempt, I gotta think CMac begins the season in Hershey. He’ll get plenty of games with the Caps this season.

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