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Believe It or Not, Brooks Laich is Actually Playing Well

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A look at a cold spell and what lies underneath

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Brooks Laich is currently in the midst of a horrific scoring slump with no goals in his last 18 games and just a trio of assists over that span. (In case you're wondering, his career-long goal-less drought is 28 games, set back in the spring of 2006.)

Just how bad has Laich been over this stretch?

Well, not really bad at all, actually. Since that January 7 goal against the Leafs, Laich actually has a score-adjusted five-on-five Corsi-For percentage of 52.7%, and relatively good score-adjusted Corsi-For and Scoring Chances-For percentages. Here, via war-on-ice, is how it looks graphically:

Laich chart

There's not one Caps forward who's outperforming Laich in both metrics, and only Joel Ward (who's mired in a slump himself, with no five-on-five goals in his last 16 games) who's been better in terms of scoring chance percentage.

So what gives? Puck luck, of course - Laich (and Ward and their center over most of that span, Eric Fehr) haven't gotten much of it at the offensive end of the rink, with Laich's on-ice shooting percentage clocking in at just 3.9%. As a point of reference, over that same stretch, Andre Burakovsky's on-ice shooting percentage is 17.2%, and Laich has a career mark of 7.5% himself.

In other words, he's not getting the bounces, despite playing well and given his role, especially if that role is considered a defensive one. Here are score-adjusted Corsi- and Scoring Chance-Against rates over that same span:

Laich 2

Facing significantly lesser competition (red versus blue), a couple of Caps forwards have done a better job than Laich at suppressing shots, and a trio have suppressed chances better, but again, given the competition he's faced (and deployments), it's fair to say Laich has been doing a solid job as a defensive forward. And he's basically been doing it since the start of the Caps' hot December run - as he's limited opposition shots, his Corsi-For percentage has risen, while his on-ice shot rate is basically where it was at the beginning of December:

Laich

Of course, at $4.5 million per year, the Caps likely want more than a solid defensive winger - those can be had for a lot cheaper. But Laich is playing tough minutes (he also has been on the ice for just two power-play goals-against since the Winter Classic) and posting good underlying numbers in them. The goals will return, and when they do, the Caps will be in pretty good shape.