While not going completely unnoticed, the Washington Capitals current level of play has been somewhat overshadowed in recent weeks, and understandably so. While most of the hockey world has been focused on Alex Ovechkin and his pursuit of the all-time goals record, the Capitals have been (rather quietly) playing some of the best hockey in the entire NHL.
In fact, while the chase of the record book garnered most of the spotlight, advanced metrics say the Capitals have been performing at a top-5 level. That’s right, Top 5. Here’s a quick look:
[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]
The Capitals have the third-best expected goals for percentage for the month of December, only trailing Carolina and Toronto, but ahead of league powerhouses Boston and New Jersey. That’s lofty company no matter how you slice it.
So the Capitals have been a top-5 team in the league in expected goals for percentage for the month of December – 12 games. Not bad. But the impressive numbers go back much further than that.
LAST 20 GAMES
The Capitals impressive play actually covers the last 20 games, since November 13 (and more, as you will see). They have the third-best expected goals for percentage since mid-November.
Again, the advanced metric shows that Carolina, Boston, New Jersey and Toronto are league powerhouses, and that’s hard to argue against, further highlighting the validity of the metric in relation to the Capitals level of play.
LAST 25 GAMES
We can even go back 25 games, since November 7, and see the Capitals we’re coming on strong as early as the start of November.
The Capitals have the 5th-best expected goals for percentage since November 7, and again, the teams ahead of them, for the most part, are confirmed high-caliber teams.
REALLY BAD START
All of the aforementioned stats reflect an extremely poor start by the Capitals. It’s hard to say why the team had such a horrific start, as injuries had yet to begin mounting for the team.
Yes, it’s easy to surmise that the team wasn’t ready to begin their 2022-23 season, or other teams were better prepared by opening night, and that could fall on Capitals coaching, as well as the players. Either way, the poor start is in the rear view and the Capitals are making up ground.
By Jon Sorensen