It’s tough to talk about signs of improvement when a team is 9-11-3, but facts are facts. The Capitals are most definitely (finally) showing some signs of crawling out of the crater they created for themselves at the beginning of the season.
While wins and losses rule all other stats, there are certain stats that provide insight as to how a team is performing, overall. Here are a few key stats that reflect an overall improving trend for the team, even without Dmitry Orlov, Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom.
Shots Per Game Average Differential
Other than goals, the most basic of stats is shots. Shots for and shots against tell us how a team is doing in total. The following plots the Capitals differential in shots for and and against averages (SF/GM-avg – SA/GM-avg) for the first quarter of the season. [Click to enlarge]
The Capitals differential in ‘shots for’ per game average and ‘shots against’ per game average has been steadily improving since a season-low on November 1. In fact, they have been outshooting opponents by a significant margin in their last handful of games. Something to keep an eye on as we go through the Pacific Northwest slate of games.
Scoring Chances For Percentage
Scoring chances for percentage simply provides a percentage of the team’s scoring chances in relation to the opposition’s scoring chances. Anything over 50% means a team is generating more scoring chances than the opposition. [Click to enlarge].
The Capitals recently crossed over the 50% threshold and their scoring chances for percentage continues to climb. In general, if you are creating more scoring chances than your opposition, the wins will come over the long haul.
Expected Goals For Percentage
Another key metric to track during any season is expected goals for percentage. In short, the metric gauges shot potential (expected goals) for every shot attempt taken by a team. Again, anything over 50% means the Capitals are generating more expected goals than the opposition.
While the team remains below 50% for the season, the trajectory of their expected goals for trend is positive and projects to pass 50% in the coming games.
The aforementioned stats are just a few of the primary metrics that indicate an overall improving trend with the team. It’s true that they will need to convert the stats into wins, but that should come.
We’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating. The Capitals most difficult part of their 2022-23 schedule is in the first half of the season. It’s unfortunate that the difficult part of the schedule coincides with key injuries, but it is what it is. They need to just hang on and be in the mix come January when injured players begin returning and the schedule eases.
By Jon Sorensen