Positive Trends Continue For Capitals – A Brief Update


Earlier this week I presented a few of the encouraging trends for the Capitals during their recent level of play (here). I wanted to provide a very brief update, as those trends continue, and several of the stats have reached positive levels for the first time this season, following last nights 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken.

In this post we will review a few of the encouraging trends after the first 29 games of the season. The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and the NoVa Caps Advanced Analytics Model (NCAAM). If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary

EXPECTED GOALS FOR PERCENTAGE (xGF%) 5v5

The Capitals began the season with a dismal expected goals for percentage average but have been steadily improving since a season-low on October 24 (New Jersey Devils) [Click to enlarge]


After last night’s game the Capitals have risen above the 50% mark for the first time this season. That means they are averaging more expected goals per game than their opponents.

Digging a little deeper, we see the horrific start by the team begin to rebound after the first eight games of the season. The following is a breakdown in three segments:

The Capitals averaged 44.93% xGF% for the first nine games, 50.85% for the middle 10 games and 53.36% in the last 10 games.

SHOTS FOR AND AGAINST AVERAGE DIFFERENTIAL (SF/GM-avg – SA/GM-avg)

Generating even-strength shots has been an issue for the Capitals since the start of the season. One metric we keep an eye on in this area is the differential between shots for and shots against and the season averages for both stats.

The following graph plots the Capitals shots for per game average minus the shots against per game average.

The Capitals average shot differential has now hit zero, out of the negative for the first time this season. They are averaging 30.7 shots for per game and 30.7 shots against per game for the season. While 0.0 differential may seem meager, the average reflects a general positive differential over the last 15 games, since bottoming out on November 1.

FINDING STRIDE

The team has no doubt found it’s stride, and all without the services of so many of their regular starters, during the course of the rebound. It will be very interesting to see what transpires when those players begin to return to the lineup.

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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6 Responses to Positive Trends Continue For Capitals – A Brief Update

  1. KimRB says:

    Is the glass half empty, or half full? Is this the beginning of a spirited run to the playoffs, or just good enough to grab a middle of the pack draft position, like 2014? Will we wallow in mediocrity, until Ovi rewrites the record book?

    Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Ok, now Alex needs 99 more goals to pass Wayne. So the Caps have to win 50 more games where he gets an empty netter at the end of each game, then in the remaining 85 games (this year and next year) he has to score 49 goals to pass Wayne. So if the Caps were to continue to win at the pace that they are and Ovie getting a goal in every win he could pass the Great One as soon as next season. Possible…..YES, probable….No. So looking for him to own the record early in the 24/25 season!!!! And a few games scoring 2 or even 3 goals sure would help. .

  3. Charlie B. says:

    Awesome analysis, always nice to see when the fancy stats are agreeing with the eye test. Kraken only had like 14 shots through 2 periods last night. I hope this upward trend continues and forms a solid foundation in their play so that when we get Nicky/Willy back they can slot in and push things even higher.

  4. novafyre says:

    I see Clay is in net for the Bears today. Wish Lavi would give Hunter a chance.

    • hockeydruid says:

      To be honest I wish that management would replace both Lav and BM. Replace them and with all the injuries maybe the new HC would bring up a few of the guys from Hershey rather than retreads. This team needs new blood and new thinking as well as younger players. Sad to say this team is NOT a CUP team and maybe not even a playoff team, however if the are it will be like the past several years out in the 1st round. More than making the playoffs this team needs the infusion of younger players taken higher in the draft than in the mid 20’s or lover. And with all the UFA and RFA that are on the team this year, it should not take a genius to know that trading them rather than getting nothing for them is the best way to go since this team is not a CUP team. The goal should be to win a CUP not just squeak into the playoffs only to be ousted in the first round thus showing that you really didnt belong.

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