Not lost in the Capitals’ convincing 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night was the loss of T.J. Oshie to a non-contact injury. Oshie left the game after his second shift of the second period and didn’t return to the game.
T.J. Oshie went to the locker room after this pic.twitter.com/RI3ioexpd7
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 18, 2022
Oshie was classified “day-to-day” by the team on Sunday, but as we have learned in recent seasons, “day-to-day” could mean just about anything.
The Capitals will no doubt miss Oshie’s presence in the lineup, for however many games it may be. But how much will they miss him? The following is a glance at a few key statistics with and without T.J. Oshie in the lineup.
[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]
WINS AND LOSSES
The Capitals were 2-6-3 when Oshie was out for the 11 games at the end of October and first half of November. The team has gone 9-3-1 since Oshie returned. Oshie has two goals and three assists since his return.
That seems like a clear indication of Oshie’s impact on the team, right? Well, let’s dig a little deeper.
EXPECTED GOALS FOR PERCENTAGE (xGF%) – WITH AND WITHOUT
The following graph plots the expected goals for percentage for each of the Capitals games so far this season with averages for games with and without Oshie in the lineup. [Click to enlarge].
The Capitals averaged an expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 50.12% in the 11 games T.J. Oshie missed due to injury. The team has averaged 53.95% xGF% in the last 13 games with Oshie in the lineup. Another positive indicator for Oshie.
SHOTS PER GAME AVERAGE DIFFERENTIAL
Another statistic we can look at is shot generation by the Capitals with and without Oshie in the lineup. There are several different shot stats worth assessing, but for the purposes of this brief snap shot, we will look at the Capitals shots per game averages.
The following graph plots the Capitals shots per game average differential (shots for per game average minus shots against per game average, or SF/GM-avg – SA/GM-avg) [Click to enlarge]
Again we are presented with data that indicates the Capitals have been on the rise since Oshie’s return, going from a -1.00 shots per game differential to a +0.50 shots per game differential.
However, in fairness to the team, sans Oshie, the rebound in this statistic began while he was out of action, improving +2.70 shots per game average, albeit still in the negative. The team has improved another +1.50 since his return.
The other facet of the game that is tightly tied to Oshie is the Capitals power play. The following graph plots the team’s power play percentage season average after each game. [Click to enlarge].
Here we can see a little more of a direct correlation to the performance of the team with and without Oshie. When Oshie began his last absence due to injury, the team was 20.6% on the power play. When he returned, the team was down to 18.8%. Since his return the team has improved 3.0%.
However, we need to add important context to the previous stats.
STRENGTH OF OPPOSITION WITH AND WITHOUT OSHIE
Not all game stats are equal, as a wide range of variables must also be considered. One way to begin adding context to any game statistic is to consider the strength of opposition for which the game statistic was generated.
[Note: The first nine games of the season were deemed negligible, considering the early stage of the season and roster and lineup changes.]
The Capitals have faced a much easier schedule since T.J. Oshie returned, which needs to be considered when weighing the expected goals for percentages , shot generation, special teams and win-loss record for each game above.
What does this mean? Well, it should lessen the overall positive impact of the stats above, because the team faced a more difficult schedule while he was out with the injury. How much can be debated.
While the Capitals record indicates a clear difference with T.J. Oshie in and out of the lineup, several of the underlying statistics don’t necessarily back that up, and need to be considered when weighing the value of the won-loss record, shots per game, special teams and expected goals for percentage for each game with and without Oshie.
It should be noted that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to correlate any statistics directly to Oshie’s roster status – in or out. They are initially more or less coincidental to start, but do gain value as more statistics are tied to specific stretches of games.
However, and that’s a big “however”, what can’t be measured is Oshie’s impact in the locker room, motivation on and off the ice and leadership within the team. While immeasurable, teammates, fans and just about any hockey observer realizes that impact, and how significant it is. This time the intangibles outweigh the statistics.
By Jon Sorensen