Capitals Get In The Win Column: Post-Game Analysis

Photo: Twitter/@Capitals

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.

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

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

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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10 Responses to Capitals Get In The Win Column: Post-Game Analysis

  1. Anonymous says:

    They played two pretty good teams to start the season, back to back. They took care of the lessor team tonight. I’m not so sure we are very far off of expectations for this team, no?

  2. Jonathan says:

    While most would see this win as a good sign that the Caps are turning the page, I do not. Given the Montreal goaltender and that team, I was expecting 4 to 1, not 3 to 1. I know it’s one goal, but that one goal would indicate to me where the Caps are at, and they aren’t there yet. Just like the second half of last season, the wins they were getting were not the dominating wins I expected. There is another level the Caps need to obtain to be a really good team, but they’re not there yet.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I would say they beat the team they were supposed to, and the first two games were toss up, which is also to be expected. They need to win a decent number of the “toss ups{ if they are going to do anything this year. So far, no dice.

      • KimRB says:

        Change a word or two there Jon, and you could have been describing this year’s midterm elections!

        Not trying to start a political argument here, just making an observation.

    • steven says:

      Honestly 3-1 or 4-1 means nothing. Its beating the teams you should and winning at least 65% of the toss-up games. The only people concerned with 3-1 r 4-1 wins are those betting on the game. Tonight’s game could actually have been 6-1 but they lost one goal on an offsides call and another on an open net shot missed shot that hit the post, in face 2 of the open net shots were real close. If the Caps had played the whole game like they did the 1st period they would have lost this game. Another level, that you are looking for, is called consistency in both ends of the rink. The one shocker of the game tonight was that Forsythe finally changed up the power play and this game it worked. Although they didnt score on the 2nd PP they still looked better than the first 2 games. The unit out there was crisper and more energetic than when Kuzy is out there. Both the coach and players need to take a page from Torontos playbook concerning the PP and move the puck and their feet all the time. The more you get your opponent moving the more of a chance they will make a mistake.

      • Jonathan says:

        It means much to me, because it indicates the health of the team. It doesn’t make any difference in the point standings, but dominance means how well the team does down the road. 2018, the Caps could dominate teams. That’s why they were able to come back against the Blue Jackets and eventually win the Cup.

  3. Jonathan says:

    I was glad to see Kuzy and Strome change places. I thought that would help the offense. Kuzy gets fixated sometimes when he plays beside Ovi. It seems toxic to me. He had a better game, and it showed. Wonderful to see the PP have a success.

    • steven says:

      One wrinkle that I would like to see would be to start the 2nd unit on the PP and not have Ovie out there. the Caps need to get much better at faceoffs if they expect to beat the better teams in this league. Montreal winning 11 more faceoffs than the Caps is just plain sad.

  4. Jon Sorensen says:

  5. Anonymous says:

    Appreciate this site’s objectivity.

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