The Relatively Good and Bad of the Past Seven Seasons

Bruce Bennett

A quick look at the Caps - and a few specific Caps - over time

"I saw a certain player play three times, and all three times he played pretty good, but when you really dissect him as a player, you see him at practice and away from the rink, it might be horrifying or it might be, ‘Oh my god this guy’s fantastic and I had no idea.’ I had respect, but now that I’m watching him closer, I think he’s a fantastic player. He’s their best all-around player. And that’s a big saying."

That quote above is Barry Trotz talking about one of his new players. You probably have a good hunch as to which one, but humor me for a minute, because a post over at mc79hockey had me thinking about relative Corsi (defined here), the Caps' decline over time and other things.

The chart below is more a very quick data-dump (data via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com) and a cool visualization than anything ground-breaking in terms of analysis, but what it shows is the five-on-five Corsi-For percentages for the five Caps that have been with the team since the start of the 2007-08 season, as well as the team's overall five-on-five CF% over that span.

Oh, and it moves.

Go ahead and click on a player and the team in the "Select" box, then hit play in the lower left. Hover over data, click on stuff... knock yourself out.

(Note: The team data includes all players, so any given player's data is actually a little further from where the team is without him and it's not a true measure of CorsiRel. Also, the size of each bubble reflects goals-for percentage, and you can see that data by hovering over it.)

So what stands out? Besides the horribly depressing downward slopes, there are two players whose CF% has out-performed the team in every season - Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. Alex Ovechkin has rebounded over the past two seasons in terms of his relative Corsi, and if that trend can continue (by no means simply wishful thinking) with a coach who can get the team back to break-even (hopefully not simply wishful thinking), that would put the Caps' top line in a pretty good position.

What this also highlights is that the team's decline has in many ways been more about coaching and depth than the top players, the remaining "Young Guns," who are still outperforming their teammates to a reasonable extent - if Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green are still doing relatively well, it stands to reason that maybe they haven't been the problem. But you knew that.

And speaking of things you knew, while I wouldn't use CorsiRel (or any other metric on its own, for that matter) to determine a team's "best player," the guy Trotz was talking about above is Backstrom... and this chart provides no evidence to the contrary.

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