FanPost

Did Ovechkin's performance suffer at MSG from Line Matching?

n the hope of answering this question, I spent some time analyzing Corsi data along with Time on Ice data. I have generated the following plots which show how Ovechkin performed throughout each game.

How to Read the Plots

The red line on each plot represents Ovechkin's Cumulative Corsi rating (at all strengths) throughout each game. The green line (currently only seen on the larger version of each plot) is his Cumulative Fenwick rating. Each thin vertical black line represents the ending of a shift and the start of the next shift. Thicker vertical black lines represent period intermissions. Red shaded areas are times during which the Capitals were on the power play. Blue shaded areas are times during which the Capitals were on the penalty kill. The horizontal lines in the background represent when each of the New York Rangers were on the ice at the same time as Ovechkin.

Here is Game #1:

Player_h8_030131_medium

for a full size version click here

Here is Game #2:

Player_h8_030132_medium

full size version - click here

Here is Game #3:

Player_v8_030133_medium

full size version - click here

Here is Game #4:

Player_v8_030134_medium

full size version click here

If nothing else, these plots show just how much the Rangers respect Ovechkin and his linemates. There isn't any doubt that the Rangers top two defensemen are Girardi and McDonagh. We see that the Rangers have paired the two of them up to exclusively work on stopping the top line of the Capitals. The following table breaks down the playing time spent by that pair against Ovechkin AND it shows how much the two are on the ice together.

Game % Ovechkin faces Girardi % Ovechkin faces McDonagh % McDonagh and Girardi on ice together at Even Strength
1 76.7 68.6 87.0
2 61.3 69.3 75.9
3 72.0 73.5 85.2
4 81.1 79.1 80.9

This is a significant departure from the stats the pair compiled during the regular season as Rob Parker mentioned in this pre-playoff analysis where they generally only spent 25% of their ice time together. We can surmise that by keeping these two occupied, the ice should be more open for other lines. It also shows that there was a 5% bump in line matching in game #4 (which amounts to approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or, another way to put it, 1 or 2 more shifts).

If the Caps wish to see Ovechkin make his mark tonight, it appears getting him on the ice for as many shifts without Girardi and McDonagh may be an answer.

[ I more than welcome other analysis and critiques on the plots above. I have a few more ideas on how the plots can be improved but would like to hear what others might suggest ]

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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