Welcome to the 17th installment of our Washington Capitals weekly trends report. The regular feature provides a brief snapshot of the most relevant statistical trends for the Capitals over the past seven-to-ten days.
The following table lists the Capitals team stats and league rankings for last week (left side) after 62 games, and the current stats and rankings for today, after 65 games. The colors indicate improving (green) and/or worsening (red) trends over the past week. [Click to enlarge]
[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, MoneyPuck 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 unofficially parted ways with hopes for the postseason at last week’s trade deadline, ultimately trading veteran starters for draft picks. As a result, the team’s performance measures took a serious hit.
The Capitals began this week’s snapshot with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday. They followed that up with an 8-3 drubbing of the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday and finished their annual west coast road trip with a 4-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
Possession Metrics – The Capitals possession metrics took a hit across the boards, mostly due to the Kings game, as the Capitals were trounced in possession metrics. The Kings led in five-on-five shot attempts, 53-27, scoring chances 33-12, high-danger chances, 19-4, expected goals for percentage, 79.03% to 20.97% and expected goals for 3.55 to .94. – the Capitals worst possession metrics for a game this season (65 games).
As a result, the Capitals team expected goals for percentage also sunk to 50.75%, the lowest it’s been since mid-December (above). [Click to enlarge]
Another way to take a look at the drop in the Capitals performance is to assess each game, their possession metrics for each game and factor in the strength of opposition for each game, or:
Game Score: [xGF%(game) X OppWin%] -25
The latest version of the model also factors in game score and goal differential in relation to the strength of the opposing team, or:
Enhanced: [[xGF%(game) X OppWin%] -25] + [(Caps(goals) – Opp(goals)]
Again, the objective is to add context, in this case, the strength of the opposition and game results to standard game metrics.
The Capitals enhanced game scores begin to consistently fall off in the middle of beginning with a 6-3 loss to Florida. It should be noted that the Capitals posted their worst game score (and xGF% for a game) in their last game against the Kings.
On the flip side, also note that the Capitals high level of play is clearly indicated in the December results.
Penalty Kill – Credit Scott Allen. He took over a top-10 penalty kill unit after last years PK coach Scott Arniel left for Winnipeg in the off-season. There wasn’t much room for improvement, but Allen has done just that. They move up from 9th in the league to 7th in the league in this week’s snapshot.
Shooting Percentage – The Capitals have rebounded nicely after slumping below 8% in the last four weeks. They are now hovering around the league average.
Takeaways/Giveaways – The Capitals continue to improve in their takeaways and giveaways, although part of that is due to the strength of competition this week (Anaheim and San Jose).
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Capitals begin the next trends snapshot with the unenviable task of hosting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. They then head for New York for a two-game road trip, beginning with the Islanders on Saturday and concluding with the Rangers on Tuesday night, before they home to host the Sabres the following night. That’s a tough week.
By Jon Sorensen
The good and bad spots in the season really jump off the chart.