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Capitals Usage Chart: February 25

A snapshot of how Adam Oates has deployed his troops through 17 games, and how they've fared.

Greg Fiume

Back in June we posted on the Caps "Usage Chart" for the 2011-12 season - Rob Vollman's visualization of how the team's skaters were deployed at five-aside over the course of the season and how they fared in those roles. We checked in on how the 2013 version of this chart looked after nine games, and with another eight games in the books, some of Adam Oates's tendencies are starting to become more apparent.

By way of background, the charts below show the percentage of non-neutral zone faceoffs for which each player has been on the ice on the horizontal axis and the average quality of their competition on the vertical - upper-left would be the hardest minutes (tough competition and not many starts in the offensive zone), lower-right, the easiest (weaker competition and favorable zone starts). The size of each bubble is a relative indicator of how well the team performed with that player on the ice, with blue being positive performance and red being negative. Usual "sample size" caveats apply.

So here are two Caps charts so far - the first covering the season's first nine games, the second covering the year-to-date (thanks to Rob; click to enlarge, and for the raw data, head over to BtN):



Some observations:

  • Three weeks ago we wrote "For all of the praise that's been heaped on John Erskine, his relative Corsi is awful and has the team's highest PDO to thank for looking to some like a viable second-pair defenseman. He isn't." He's improved some and is facing tougher competition (but I'm not sure I buy the toughest on the team), which apparently is enough to earn a two-year contract extension... but he's still not a top-four defenseman.
  • Jason Chimera has gotten cold, as we all know, and not just on the scoresheet, but in terms of puck possession. Of note, he's spent a lot of time on a top line that has struggled in terms of possession since being part of an effective third line early on.
  • Eric Fehr really has been super so far. Mathieu Perreault, too. Granted, they haven't played the hardest minutes and have been taken care of by the hockey gods a bit... but still.
  • Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer and Wojtek Wolski have all faced plus competition with zone starts below 50% and have positive Corsi ratings. So why have they failed (to the point of being broken up) as a line? All three have five-on-five on-ice shooting percentages below 7%, ranging from Backstrom's 6.5% down to Wolski's 4.2% and Brouwer's 3.7%. That's probably unsustainably bad fortune.
  • Joel Ward has played hard minutes and beaten them (and has gotten great luck).
  • Caps goalies have struggled and those struggles have made some players look worse than they've actually played, perhaps none moreso than John Carlson (though, to be sure, that's been a two-way street at times). But he's faced tough competition and has a positive relative Corsi... and also has been on the ice for fewer goals-against per sixty minutes at five-on-five than half of the Caps' D-corps. Carlson's play isn't one of the biggest problems facing this team right now.

There's more here (there always is), but those are some of the things that jump out. What else do you see there?