The Capitals defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to capture their first win of the 2022-23 season. As a cherry on top of the victory, the Capitals’ power play converted their first goal of the campaign, ending an 0-9 schneid entering tonight’s tilt.
In this post we’ll take a look at some of the underlying statistics to observe where the Capitals had success and where they can possibly improve during five-on-five play.
Five-on-five performance at a glance
Here is how the Caps’ statistical performance looked tonight against the Canadiens:
One key thing to call out here is how effective the Capitals were in generating high-danger chances (8) to the Canadiens’ 4. The interesting piece here is that the Capitals ended up with a lower expected goals for percentage (xGF%) than the Canadiens, even though they controlled the majority of scoring and high-danger chances.
The factor that ended up making the difference here is the Canadiens really controlled the pace of play and possession in the third period. The Habs controlled 65.52% of Corsi shot attempts, 70% of Fenwick shot attempts, and 70% of shots for. This ended up pushing their xGF% to 77.44 in the third. This is to be somewhat expected when a team is down a couple of goals entering the final frame. The Capitals had an xGF% of 59.73 in the first period and 52.27% in the second.
We’d all like to see the Capitals keep the pedal to the metal with a multiple goal lead. The best way to put away an opponent is to grow your lead, not sit back and focus your efforts 100% defensively.
Five-on-five forward line performance
The forward lines were shuffled a bit entering tonight’s tilt with the Canadiens, and it seems, based on line performances (in the top six especially), we might see some more line adjustments from Peter Laviolette:
The Ovechkin line struggled a bit tonight, seeing the majority of the shot attempts on ice in the defensive zone. With that, they struggled with xGF%. The newly formed second line fared better, scoring a five-on-five goal while also being on the ice for more shots against than generated. The fourth line struggled once more, getting hemmed in a bit in their own zone.
There’s one player that’s exceeding expectations even though he hasn’t tallied a point through three games: Aliaksei Protas. His five-on-five performance was excellent: a team high 70.37 CF%, a team high 65 FF%, tied for the team lead with 71.43 SF%, and a team high with 65.22 xGF%. Protas exceeded expectations in camp and continues that trend so far this season.
The Capitals can finally build off a victory against a rebuilding, yet talented, Canadiens team. Finding success on the power play is a big lift for a group that struggled early this season. It’ll be interesting to see if the top six is shuffled a bit again since Ovechkin and Brown haven’t really clicked with two different centers this season. On the other hand, it’s hard to build chemistry if your lines are constantly shuffled.
By Justin Trudel