Senators Dominate Capitals: Post-Game Analysis

Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Capitals squandered a 2-0 first period lead, allowing five straight Ottawa goals to fall 5-2 in Canada’s nation’s capital. The Capitals had some carry-over from the third period that sparked the comeback win against Vancouver on Monday night, but the engine sputtered and died in the final two periods of tonight’s contest. The Capitals have yet to really put together a solid 60-minute effort, and tonight was about 18 minutes of great effort.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the statistics behind the Capitals’ dreadful performance against Ottawa. 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 NHLAnalytics Glossary.

Five-on-five performance

There are no words in my vocabulary that will describe how poorly the Capitals played after the first period better than the cold, hard stats:

The Capitals did not score a goal at even strength, and they didn’t deserve to after the first period ended. The first period numbers, outside of the lack of ability to limit Ottawa’s high-danger chances, are rather good. After that…well…will lose you 99.99% of games you play.

The third period was one of the worst statistical performances I’ve seen out of the Capitals in a long time. The Caps entered the final frame tied 2-2. Obviously, the two empty net goals at the end make the score look even worse, but there’s a reason why the Capitals were still somehow in this game. That starts and ends with Darcy Kuemper.

In a game where the Caps were dominated, Kuemper posted a .929 save percentage and saved 11 high-danger shots against out of 12. Kuemper did exactly what the Caps are paying him the big bucks to do.

To nail that point home, just look at the shot attempt heat map from Natural Stat Trick:

The Senators’ heat map looks like a weather radar map showing a severe thunderstorm. The Capitals’ looks like a passing drizzle. It’s no wonder the Senators won this game. And to continue how dominant the Senators were, over the Caps, here’s the Corsi differential during five-on-five play:

You see that the Capitals really grabbed momentum in shot attempts about halfway through the first period. After that, the Senators started taking control. They never relinquished, and the Capitals were lost.

Five-on-five forward line performance

Well, typically there’s some good to take away from line performances even in losses. Tonight, there’s not much to build upon:

Every line failed to meet expectations, and the “gamble” by Laviolette to break-up that dominant checking line of Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, and Aliaksei Protas did not pay off. Protas had some positive effects on the fourth line with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, but that trio was on the ice for the only five-on-five goal scored by either team tonight.

The fact of the matter is, when every line struggles to generate shot attempts, chances, or shots on goal, it’s not going to be a good night. It wasn’t a good night for the Caps’ forward group.

Luckily, with Kuznetsov now returning to the lineup, we can expect some more line changes to optimize performances.

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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32 Responses to Senators Dominate Capitals: Post-Game Analysis

  1. Anonymous says:

    You can’t call for more ice time for McMichael with numbers like that. I’m a huge fan of Connor, but more ice time tonight was not justified. He needs a few games to get into the swing of things.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah it’s his fault they lost. If he doesn’t get a hat trick every game he needs to sit.

      • OviGoals2 says:

        Easy, not what anyone is asking of him. But the eye test and metrics look like crap. All lines were bad so hard to put too much on him…but he wasn’t good. Lars was horrific on the top line.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        I don’t think anyone’s blaming him. All caps had a bad night. I think it’s more in reference to those clamoring for more minutes for C-Mac. Tonight it wasn’t justified. Last season it was. His underlying stats were excellent, so it was hard to say why he didn’t get more time last season. The difference this year, his stats haven’t been good, all the way through preseason and tonight.

        I’ve tracked him since his draft day, and to me, he doesn’t have that swagger (confidence) he had up through last season. Confidence is a tricky and fleeting thing. I hope the team steps cautiously with him.

      • Franky619 says:

        He’s not playing cause not good enough to play period. People need a reality check, he may never be a regular NHL player.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah give up on him already instead of developing his talent. Forsburg, stevenson, Burakovsky,

          • Franky619 says:

            If your point is that Caps management is bad then your right. That does’nt make Mcmicheals anymore NHL ready. He had plenty of chance last year and did’nt prove anything. Mcmicheals is nowhere near Forsberg if that’s your comparable then you don’t know what you’re talking about. Burakovsky also is a winger and a much better sniper than CM but they did’nt had the money to keep him. Same thing with Stephenson, money issue. CM should be playing in Hershey to get is confidence back and gain experience, they brought him up too soon.

            • novafyre says:

              I think the COVID taxi hurt some players’ development. So did the season cancellations in Canada juniors. Other players were able to handle the time off better. And some players were able to get overseas and play games.

    • Jonathan says:

      Exactly. In Hershey where he can get a lot of TOI. He needs to play.

      • novafyre says:

        Agreed. Sitting in the press box isn’t going to improve his play or increase his confidence. Dressing and then sitting on the bench for 52 minutes of game time isn’t going to work for him. That is not playing him. If he can’t get normal ice time in DC or Hershey, trade him.

        I’m getting the same vibes I got with Vrana. There is no game ice in Lavi’s doghouse.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s ugly.

  3. John says:

    No Backy, no Willy, no Kuzy, no Brown, and even no Hags. AJF and Leason getting claimed for good measure. To say we’re hurting at Forward right now is a bit of an understatement. Sure, Kuz comes back after this game, and this did give him much needed rest, but he alone will not fix our issues. CMac looked scared out there, the lines were a total mess, and we really got 36-year-old Oshie being our enforcer. No one was good tonight. We got no speed without Brown and Hags. We need to win with physicality, and we can’t even do that anymore apparently. Mantha, Oshie, and Mojo are the only ones who get a pass. And I don’t even wanna talk about the defense.

    • steven says:

      Much needed rest after 4 games? OMG what is he going to do after 20 games? #) games Or heaven forbid 45 games? Like you said this team has no speed as they are old and slow. No one gets faster as they get older. To be honest, and it is only 5 games, but the over $8.5 mIl they spent on goalies looks no better than the under $2 mil they spent last year. Sammy is now making $11.8 mil and is 3-0 with a 1.96 GAA and VV is now making $3.4 mil and has a GAA of 5.0 and is 0-1. But like I said it is early. Just seems that we got just about the same as what we gave up. PP better but the PK totally sucks and it looks confused and disjointed. At the rate they are going I wonder which happens first: HC fired or a fire sale?

      • Franky619 says:

        No goaltender is gonna make up for this mess. Laviolette’s system is crap they keep running around in the defensive zone trying to each cover their man, that system does’nt work especially with this group. The day they fire Lavy can’t come soon enough.

    • Dan+Hornbaker says:

      To mention “missing” AJF and Leason as a testament to the Caps missing forwards is a joke. The rest you pointed out, of course spot on, but listing 2 guys that couldn’t make the top 14 forwards (17 if you include Backy, Wilson and Hags) is ridiculous. I’m tired of hearing how losing them has hurt Hersey (probably true, but who cares…let younger prospects have opportunities)

  4. Lance says:

    All Caps forwards other than McMichael and Snively were minuses. McMichael was 50% on faceoffs (probably only took 2). He played 8 minutes. Not sure how he’s supposed to get into a flow playing only 8 minutes. He made a couple of solid plays. I didn’t see any gaffes. The team didn’t take hardly any shots after the 1st Period. The Sens have improved and they ran the Caps out of the building. Coulda been 9-2 instead of 5-2.

    BMac has to add some toughness immediately. With Wilson out and the roster aging there is no one to seriously lay the body (Orlov occasionally) and no one to fight. This Caps team is a pushover right now. They’ll be all but out of the playoffs fast if they don’t add some baddassery.

  5. novafyre says:

    Justin, this line is perfect — it should have been the headline: The Senators’ heat map looks like a weather radar map showing a severe thunderstorm. The Capitals’ looks like a passing drizzle.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Trade the young guys and draft picks for more reliable veterans! And then sign them to long term contracts at high cap hits. Extend the GM and HC and plan a parade!

  7. Lucas says:

    Even though it’s very early in the season I do wonder what are some positives or negatives in punting this season and trading off some older players like Eller

    • steven says:

      There is only one problem in doing that and its the EGO of Little Teddy sitting in his box. Sad to say but he bought a team for his ego and unlike other businesses where you keep workers for years and years in sports you have to renew them and change the players regularly so that you keep young! Honestly trading some of the players would be a great idea especially if the fire sale includes the GM and HC. And trade for picks not other players. This team is ready for and in need of a rebuild not just adding more parts, that so far this season do not play well together.

      • novafyre says:

        I think it can be refreshed before a rebuild. I always compare the Caps with the Pits. Both gained their historic superstar at the same time, both have kept him, both have built an aging core around him.

        What has Pits done differently this year than the Caps that are giving them such success? Maybe Jon or Justin can do some digging and come out with more than just an eyeball comparison.

        Sullivan and Cooper are the best NHL coaches never to win coach of the year award. Sullivan has reinvented the team without having to rebuild. How?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Total cap mismanagement. Look at what Tampa did when Kuch was out. Caps have $20M on IR/LTIR. Need to get a trade done until it’s to late and Backy will have no playoffs to come back to. Is Ovi on pace for 20 goals?

  9. Lewis6kids says:

    The Caps are simply not a very good team. The Tampa Kuch comparison is not apt. The Lightning were a very good hockey team even without Kuch. Backstrom’s presence or absence in inconsequential. The money tied up in NB19 and Ovi means the Caps will be non-contenders unless our kids quickly develop into stars (it could happen!).
    I’ve already used up my quota of 2012 Philadelphia Phillies analogies.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Still can get a trade or couple done to get a bit better. Maybe 8 points better. Pref. on D. Put Protas on the 1 st line (jeez). I’ve been saying they should have been more active on FA market for Ds. Now they need to trade for one. It’s not easy. That’s why the GM gets paid. 🙂

    • Lewis6kids says:

      Yeah, okay a “bit better”. we’ve got that Backstrom money we haven’t used up, and Tom Wilson will be a boost. But I doubt 8 points better. My guess is that Oshie and Eller and the rest of the SC vets degrade as the year wears on – they did last year. Still, those kids could surprise us. HCPL just needs to play them.

    • steven says:

      Also the $8.5 mil spent on goalies this year looks no better than the under $2 mil they spent last year! Wonder if Little Teddy and his GM think they are the Yanks and can buy a Cup?

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