With the Washington Capitals 2022-23 season in the review mirror, we can now begin to assess the performance of the different elements of the Capitals game over the course of the season. We begin our analysis with the Capitals goaltenders.
The Capitals goaltending was very much a mixed bag during the 2022-23 season. While both Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren had periods of excellent play they also had decent stretches of less than desirable play. They also suffered from outside factors including injuries, the performance of the team around them and the sell-off at the trade deadline.
The Capitals and their team goaltending got off to a good start to the season, reaching a season-high team save percentage of .931 in early November. [Click to enlarge].
Following a dip in November, the Capitals goaltending saw a surge, mostly buoyed by the play of Charlie Lindgren, rising above the .920% mark for most of December. However, the team save percentage was essentially in decline since the first of the year.
Darcy Kuemper – Kuemper played fairly well this season. He’s had stretches of poor play, like any goaltender, but also stood tall when the players in front of him were giving up a lot of shots and chances. Kuemper finished the season with a 22-26-7 record in 57 appearances. He finished with a 2.87 goals against average (30th in the league) and a .909 save percentage (27th in the league).
Charlie Lindgren – Lindgren got off to a hot start and kept the Capitals in the playoff hunt last fall when Kuemper was struggling. However, things turned south for Lindgren in the last couple of months of the season. Lindgren finished the season with a 13-11-3 record in 31 appearances. He finished with a 3.05 goals against average (41st in the league) and a .899 save percentage (46th in the league).
[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 following tables lists the season-ending stats for Kuemper and Lindgren at five-on-five. [Click to enlarge]
While Kuemper and the team struggled mightily down the stretch, Kuemper was able to finish the season with a positive goal differential (xGA – GA), indicating he was making more stops than “expected”, based on the expected goals model.
Kuemper was the better netminder against high-danger shot attempts, but Lindgren had the better average against medium-danger shot attempts, which is interesting.
Kuemper averaged 3.37 rebound shot attempts against per game while Lindgren averaged just 2.64 rebound shot attempts against per game, which is also interesting.
It’s also worth looking at how the Capitals goaltenders finished with respect to the rest of the league. The following graph plots the save percentage and goals differential (xGA – GA) at five-on-five for all the league’s goaltenders that played 500 minutes or more. [Click to enlarge]
Kuemper falls in the middle of the pack, but when you consider intangibles such as injuries and the more measurable impact of the departures of Orlov and Gustafsson, it’s actually somewhat encouraging.
The 2022-23 season saw the most appearances in NHL games for Lindgren, more than doubling his previous high of 14.
CAVEATS AND CONTEXT
The Capitals were fairly decent, defensively in the first half of the season, but the second half saw a significant dip in performance in the Capitals Blueline, and rightfully so. The team shipped off two of their best defensemen (Dmitry Orlov to Boston and Erik Gustafsson to Toronto) at the trade deadline sell off. That’s going to impact any defense, and in turn, put significantly more stress on your goaltenders.
I hate the injury excuse but for this season, it had a huge impact on the team’s play from top to bottom. There is no question the aforementioned stats are a partial result of the continuous and significant injuries sustained by the team throughout the season. The John Carlson injury and use of prospects not ready for play in the NHL but huge pressure in Kuemper and Lindgren.
Kuemper will lock down the number one role against next season. The number two slot could see some change, or at least stiff competition when training camp opens in September. It will depend on a wide range of variables including options available and the dreaded salary cap.
By Jon Sorensen
I’d package Lindgren in one of the many upcoming deals and look to improve at #2.
The goalie market should be interesting, and lindgren’s cap hit will fully bury in the AHL so we might not have to trade him
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Darcy 0.39 winning %, $238,636 per win
Chuck 0.42 winning %, $84,615 per win
Interesting breakdown, Fyre.