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Capitals Usage Chart: March 20

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A snapshot of how Adam Oates has deployed his troops through 29 games, and how they've fared.

Bruce Fedyck - USA TODAY Sports

It's been a few weeks since we've taken a look at the Caps Usage Chart for the season, and with roughly 60% of the season behind us, now seems as good a time as any for a peek at what's going on at even-strength.

By now, you know what you're looking at, but here's a quick refresher: the charts below are Rob Vollman's visualization of how the team's skaters have been deployed at five-aside over the course of the season and how they fared in those roles. They 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 (with grey labels where applicable) being positive performance and red (black labels) being negative. Usual "sample size" caveats apply.

So here are two Caps charts so far - the first covering the season's first 17 games, the second covering the year-to-date (thanks to Rob; click to enlarge, and for the raw data, head over to BtN):

Washingtonfeb24_medium Caps_player_usage_3

Some observations:

  • If you believe in the validity of the Quality of Competition metric, the chart is interesting in that the Caps are beating a lot of tough minutes (above zero on the vertical axis and left of 50 on the horizontal) and getting beaten in easier ones (below zero on the vertical and right of 50 on the horizontal). That's... something.
  • Mathieu Perreault continues to crush his minutes. So does Wojtek Wolski. And yet, they can't stick in the lineup. But you know how we feel about these two by now.
  • Troy Brouwer is having a really nice season for himself, this despite still being owed some five-on-five luck from the hockey gods (though they're more than making up for it on the power play).
  • Nicklas Backstrom, along with Brouwer and Eric Fehr were doing a good job as a line in terms of possession and have done well when apart. The big question now is whether Backstrom can turn Alex Ovechkin's possession numbers around.
  • Karl Alzner and John Carlson are good.
  • Matt Hendricks seems to have taken a bit of a turn for the worse... though perhaps playing with Ovechkin and Ribeiro contributed to that, which is a bizarre thought to wrap one's head around.
  • Three cheers for Steve Oleksy.

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

Special bonus treat! Our pals at Jewels From The Crown threw former Kings on a chart, so we thought we'd do similarly and look at how former Caps are faring (of course, here's another look at how a former Cap is doing). Armed with the knowledge below, which former Cap would you most want to be a current Cap?

Former_caps_usage_chart_medium